Times and Reporter Reach Agreement on Her Departure
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
Published: November 9, 2005
The New York Times and Judith Miller, a veteran reporter for the paper, reached an agreement today that ends her 28-year career at the newspaper and caps more than two weeks of negotiations.
Times Editor's Memo to Staff on Judith Miller (November 9, 2005) Ms. Miller went to jail this summer rather than reveal a confidential source in the C.I.A. leak case. But her release from jail 85 days later and persistent questions about her actions roiled long-simmering concerns about her in the newsroom.
"We are grateful to Judy for her significant personal sacrifice to defend an important journalistic principle," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times. "I respect her decision to retire from The Times and wish her well."
In a memo sent the Times staff at 3:30 p.m. today, Bill Keller, the executive editor, wrote, "In her 28 years at The Times, Judy participated in some great prize winning journalism."
Ms. Miller could not be reached for comment.
Lawyers for Ms. Miller and the paper negotiated a severance package whose details they would not disclose. Under the agreement, Ms. Miller will retire from the newspaper, and The Times will print a letter she wrote to the editor explaining her position. Ms. Miller originally demanded that she be able to write an essay for the paper's Op-Ed page refuting the allegations against her, the lawyers said. The Times refused that demand - Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, said, "We don't use the Op-Ed page for back and forth between one part of the paper and another" - but agreed to let her to write the letter.
In that letter, to be published in The New York Times on Thursday under the heading, "Judith Miller's Farewell," Ms. Miller said she was leaving partly because some of her colleagues disagreed with her decision to testify in the C.I.A. leak case.
"But mainly," she wrote, "I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be."
She noted that even before going to jail, she had "become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war." She said she regretted "that I was not permitted to pursue answers" to questions about those intelligence failures.
As part of the settlement, Mr. Keller made public a personal letter that he wrote to Ms. Miller regarding a memo he sent to the staff on Oct. 21. In that memo, he spoke of his regrets in dealing slowly with problems surrounding Ms. Miller.
In his letter to her, Mr. Keller acknowledged that Ms. Miller had been upset with him over his use of the words "entanglement" and "engagement" in reference to her relationship with I. Lewis Libby Jr., her source and the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney.
"Those words were not intended to suggest an improper relationship," Mr. Keller wrote.
Secondly, he noted that she took issue with his assertion that "Judy seems to have misled" Phil Taubman, the Washington bureau chief, when Mr. Taubman asked her whether she had been on the receiving end of an orchestrated White House campaign.
"I continue to be troubled by that episode," Mr. Keller wrote. "But you are right that Phil himself does not contend that you misled him; and, of course, I was not a participant in the conversation between you and Phil."
Ms. Miller wrote in her letter that she was gratified that Mr. Keller "has finally clarified remarks made by him that were unsupported by fact and personally distressing."
She added, referring to Mr. Keller: "Some of his comments suggested insubordination on my part. I have always written the articles assigned to me, adhered to the paper's sourcing and ethical guidelines and cooperated with editorial decisions, even those with which I disagreed."
She thanked "colleagues who stood by me after I was criticized on these pages."
Ms. Miller, 57, leaves the paper after serving for many years as one of its most distinguished investigative and national security correspondents. She has written four books and in 2002 was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for reporting, prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, about the growing threat of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
But her reporting came under criticism with her subsequent reports suggesting that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, coverage that helped the Bush administration build its case for invading Iraq but that turned out to be wrong.
Ms. Miller was released from jail Sept. 29 after being locked up longer than any reporter in American history for refusing to testify and reveal her sources in the leak case. The case became perhaps the most significant to test press freedoms against government demands for secrecy since the Pentagon Papers three decades ago. And it may foreshadow an increase in subpoenas to force other reporters to testify about their confidential sources.
After asserting that she would never disclose her sources, Ms. Miller revealed that her source was Mr. Libby, who has since been indicted on five charges related to the C.I.A. leak investigation and has pleaded not guilty. Then Ms. Miller testified that she could not remember who gave her the name of a covert C.I.A. operative.
In her letter to The Times, Ms. Miller said that she agreed to testify only after Mr. Libby gave her a personal waiver to speak and after the special prosecutor agreed to limit his questioning of her to those germane to the C.I.A. case.
"Though some colleagues disagreed with my decision to testify, for me to have stayed in jail after achieving my conditions would have seemed self-aggrandizing martyrdom or worse, a deliberate effort to obstruct the prosecutor's inquiry into serious crimes," she wrote.
Times Editor's Memo to Staff on Judith Miller
Published: November 9, 2005
Following is a memorandum from Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, sent to his staff today at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.
To the Staff:
Judy Miller has retired from The New York Times effective today.
In her 28 years at The Times, Judy participated in some great, prize-winning journalism. She displayed fierce determination and personal courage both in pursuit of the news and in resisting assaults on the freedom of news organizations to report. We wish her well in the next phase of her career.
P.S. Judy asked that I share with you a letter I sent regarding my recent memo to the staff. It is attached, and speaks for itself.
I know you’ve been distressed by the memo I sent to the staff about things I wish I’d done differently in the course of this ordeal. Let me be clear on two points you’ve raised.
First, you are upset with me that I used the words “entanglement” and “engagement” in reference to your relationship with Scooter Libby. Those words were not intended to suggest an improper relationship. I was referring only to the series of interviews through which you and the paper became caught up in an epic legal controversy.
Second, you dispute my assertion that “Judy seems to have misled” Phil Taubman when he asked whether you were one of the reporters to whom the White House reached out with the Wilson story. I continue to be troubled by that episode. But you are right that Phil himself does not contend that you misled him; and, of course, I was not a participant in the conversation between you and Phil.
I wish you all the best for the future.