Brooke muses on the sudden release of Judith Miller from a Virginia detention center, after 85 days behind bars for refusing to testify in the long-running CIA leak investigation. Did Miller waver?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I'm Brooke Gladstone. Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter convicted of civil contempt for refusing to identify a source, was released on Thursday after 85 days in the slammer. On Friday she testified before a grand jury investigating who leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Other reporters had made deals with the prosecutor or received explicit permission from their sources to testify. Miller said she would not make deals and was unpersuaded by the blanket waiver signed by government officials releasing her from her obligation to protect them. After testifying Friday, she explained that now she had the personal assurance she needed, a phone call from her source on the Plame case, known to be Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the Vice-President's Chief of Staff, and that the prosecutor had promised her that her testimony would be limited to that source.
JUDITH MILLER: Believe me, I did not want to be in jail. But I would have stayed even longer if I had not achieved these two things: the personal waiver - and the narrow testimony. I could not have testified without both of them.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times, released a statement Thursday saying, quote: "It's an enormous relief that Judy's ordeal is over. Her steadfastness and defense of principle has won her admiration from around the world, wherever people value a free aggressive press." And he continued: "Her friends and colleagues are delighted she's free." Well, her friends, certainly, but not all of her colleagues. Here's why. Libby's lawyers told the Times that Miller had always had permission to testify. Nothing's changed. Yet it took 85 days in the cooler with the looming threat of even more jail time before she felt sufficiently reassured. She said the phone call did it. So why did it take so long to request that call? Her explanation is weak, one Times reporter told us. In fact, it's embarrassing. So Miller's hero's welcome is tinged with skepticism and concern; skepticism that she was as steadfast as her paper claims, and concern that the affair sends the message not that the paragons of journalism will not be moved, but rather that reporters may well crumble after a few months in the big house. Many press defenders hope that the Miller affair will strengthen the case for a national shield law to protect anonymous sources, but as legal scholar Geoffrey Stone once told us, such laws are supposed to shield sources, not reporters. In the Plame case, the source is clearly a no-goodnik. He does not deserve journalism's protection. In fact, there's a possibility he'll drag journalism's best intentions down with him. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER]