Editor and Publisher
By E&P Staff
NEW YORK Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald may seek criminal contempt charges against New York Times reporter Judith Miller, which could significantly lengthen her time in jail, Howard Kurtz and Carol Leonnig report in today's Washington Post.
They also reveal that, according to two sources, Miller spoke with Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, during the period in July 2003 just before Robert Novak's fateful column appeared.
"Fitzgerald and Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan have both raised the possibility in open court that Miller could be charged with criminal contempt if she continues to defy Hogan's order to cooperate in the investigation of who may have unlawfully leaked the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media," the Post observes.
"The unusual threat in the case underscores the sensitivity of an investigation that has reached the highest levels of the White House and the prosecutor's determination to extract information from reluctant journalists even though he has yet to charge anyone with a crime. What secrets Miller can unlock for Fitzgerald -- and the reasons he has so doggedly pursued her -- have been a subject of considerable mystery."
The reporters described the Miller/Libby angle this way:
"The two sources, one who is familiar with Libby's version of events and the other with Miller's, said the previously undisclosed conversation occurred a few days before Plame's name appeared in Robert D. Novak's syndicated column on July 14, 2003. Miller and Libby discussed former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame's husband, who had recently alleged that the Bush administration twisted intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, according to the source familiar with Libby's version.
"But, according to the source, the subject of Wilson's wife did not come up."
A New York Times article today by Adam Liptak also explores Miller's possible role in this case.
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