Judith Miller,

Journalist (Investigative Reporter)

By Samantha Juwitha Born (04120090045)

Judith Miller was born January 2, 1948, in New York City. She spent her childhood in Miami and Los Angeles and graduated from Hollywood High School. Miller then continued her studies in the Ohio State University, Barnard College and the Institute of European Studies at the University of Brussels. She received a bachelor degree from Barnard University and also got a master from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
In 1977 She became a member of the Washington Bureau, where she covered the securities industry, Congress, politics, and foreign affairs, particularly the Middle East. She was the first woman to become chief of the Times’ bureau in Cairo, Egypt in 1983, where she covered the Arab countries.
In 1986, she became the Paris correspondent and traveled throughout Europe and North Africa. Two years later, she returned to Washington and became the Washington Bureau’s news editor and deputy bureau chief. In May, 1989, a newly created unit to enhance the Washington Bureau’s coverage of radio, television, advertising, and publishing was established and Miller became the co-coordinator of that unit.
In October 1990, She received two special titles, first she was named special correspondent to the Persian Gulf crisis, and then she became the Times’ Sunday Magazine’s special correspondent.
She was also the only reporter to be embedded four months during the Iraq war with the 75th Task Force. The Task Force, is the multi-service unit whose sensitive mission was to hunt for WMB (Weapons of Mass Destruction) in Iraq.
Prior to being a member of the Times, Miller was also the Washington bureau’s chief of The Progressive, which was a monthly magazine, regularly contributed to National Public Radio Program “All Things Considered”, and she also wrote articles for publications.
Judith Miller is also an author of four books. Two of the books she has written became number 1 best-sellers. Her latest work was “Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War.” Published by Simon & Schuster, 2001. Collaborating with two Times colleagues, the book became number 1 in the best seller’s list not long after the 9/11 incident and the anthrax letter terrorist attacks. She also wrote “God Has Ninety-Nine Names,” also published by Simon & Schuster in the year 1996. IT studies the spread of Islamic fanaticism in ten Middle Eastern countries, including Israel and Iran.
Miller published her first book in 1990, with the title “One, By One, By One,” also published by Simon and Schuster. The book was highly praised in terms of how people in six nations have distorted the memory of the Holocaust. In the same year she also co-authored “Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf” which was published by Times Books. It was considered the first comprehensive explanation of the Gulf crisis and included the biography of Hussein. This book also became a best-seller which sold over 600,000 copies and was on the top of The Times Best Seller list during the 1991 Gulf war.
Miller also won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for “explanatory journalism” for her January 2001 series on “Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda”. She also won an Emmy that same year for her work on a Nova/New York Times documentary based on articles for her book, “Germs.”
Miller was also part of the Times team that won the prestigious DuPont award also during that year for a series of programs on terrorism for PBS’s “Frontline.”
She appeared in many TV shows where she discussed a wide range of national security topics. Miller has appeared in “Sixty Minutes,” Oprah Winfrey, CNN, ABC's “Night Line” and “Good Morning America,” NBC’s “Today” show, David Letterman, and “The Charlie Rose Show.”
Miller also became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously, she was a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, where she served on a prestigious National Academy of Sciences panel to examine how to expand the work of the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which has sought to stop the spread of WMD material and expertise from the Former Soviet Union since 1991. She is also a lecturer and frequently lectures on the Middle East, Islam, terrorism, biological and chemical weapons and other national security topics.
During the 2003 war in Iraq, Miller wrote a number of key New York Times stories that intended to provide evidence, from both anonymous and named sources. Miller, as an embedded journalist in Iraq, actively gathered US military forces and Iraqi officials to follow up leads from her searches concerning the WMD. However no weapons were and Miller blamed this failure on a disorganized US military. (Crawford, Madden, O’Keefe, Stevens and Tong, 2006).
In November 2005, Miller spent 85 days in jail to defend a reporter’s right to protect confidential sources. That year she received the Society of Professional Journalists “First Amendment Award” for her protection of sources. The investigation of the grand jury was focused on whether administration officials leaked the identity of the CIA operative Valerie Plame whose husband, a former diplomat named Joseph C. Wilson IV, became a public critic of the Iraq war in July 2003.
Miller was issued an order in August 2004 to testify about her conversations with I. Lewis Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President, (Libby was suspect to the leak) and she and The Times fought it. Three courts, including the Supreme Court, declined to back Miller. As Miller remained resolute and was closer to going to jail for her silence, the leadership of The Times stood squarely behind her (Joyce, 2007).
The Times was covering themselves by crusading the editorial page on the behalf of Miller. The news department had been scooped on the paper’s own story several times. They even included the story about Miller’s release from jail.
Miller was released from jail on September 29, 2005. She had secured an un-coerced waiver from her source. She gave evidence to the grand jury and the New York Times and identified her source as being Lewis Libby, Chief of Staff to the Vice President. After Miller was released from prison, she advocated the enactment of a Federal shield law to protect the relationship between reporters and their sources and the public's right to know.
“In a society where deliberation lies at the heart of democratic theory and where speech is strongly protected by the Constitution, the idea of the reporter’s privilege is a significant one” (Joyce, 2007). As an American journalist, working in a democratic society, with regulations protecting the freedom of speech, it may seem like the journalist is free to express anything yet, the protection varies according to context.
In theory, America holds the libertarian theory, although this ideal has been challenged often by changes in the media industries since the Constitution was adopted. America today embraces both the Libertarian and Social Responsibility press systems. The social responsibility theory, accepts the concept of a libertarian press but advises how the media should be practiced, in which journalists will do their jobs well only if regularly reminded about their duties, (Van Blerkom, 2008). The struggle lies in the fact that journalists do have a right for freedom of speech and also the right of keeping sources confidential; however, the government may interfere when they fear threats to society especially to national security. “A journalist’s argument for resisting giving evidence will be strongest where they are seen to be a non-party to proceedings and where there are other means for the courts to gather such information” (Joyce, 2007).
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution concisely advocates the idea of freedom of the press. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”
Having an Amendment that actually seeks to protect journalists, it shows an opposing reality. Even though, journalists have their rights, but the government ignores them when they fear it is not of the society’s best interest.
“The Judith Miller example is significant for the way in which it highlights the tensions that exist between our desire for a heroic media and our increasing fear of media power. Who is to watch the watchdog?” (Joyce, 2007).
Judith Miller mostly focuses on national security issues and what is happening in the Middle East, especially in Iraq. It is quite a challenge to be taking up on stories with great political and cultural sensitivity, since it may lead to certain consequences, the obvious one being imprisoned like Miller was in 2005.
However, the countries Miller covers are not free from danger and might put her life at risk. Yet, Miller is a very committed journalist who works hard to open the public’s eyes. One of her most important principles is to protect a source’s identity if being asked to do so or if it puts the source in great danger.
Yet the challenge also lies in how she has to face governmental issues. Some information may not be accepted or tolerated by the government especially when it concerns national security.
This is where the government begins to interfere with journalistic practices. Going back to Joyce’s statement about who is to watch the watchdog, it implies that both journalists and the government are in constant tension of watching each other’s activities. This again is proven in Miller’s case in 2005 where she refused to reveal the identity of her source and the court did not tolerate her right. There are many potential consequences for Miller as she is still active in covering news on the Middle East in relation to national security.
Since 2008, Miller has been a commentator for Fox News, where she talks about terrorism and other national security issues, the Middle East, American foreign policy, and the need to strike a delicate balance between protecting both national security and civil liberties in a post-9/11 world. Miller’s blog postings can also be found at “The Fox Forum”.


Judith Miller Biography Retrieved from http://www.judithmiller.com/about/

Crawford, S. ; Madden, J. ; O’Keefe, A. ; Stevens, J.; Tong, K (2006) Judith Miller: Biography . NACAF Summer. Retrieved from http://www.jstudies.com/nacaf/miller/bio.htm

Van Natta Jr., D. ; Liptak, A. ; J. Levy, C. (2005). The Miller Case: A Notebook, a Cause, a Jail Cell and a Deal. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/16/national/16leak.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Joyce, D. (2007). The Judith Miller Case and the Relationship between Reporter and Source: Competing Visions of the Media’s Role and Function. Retrieved from http://iplj.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Article-THE-JUDITH-MILLER-CASE-AND-THE-RELATIONSHIP-BETWEEN-REPORTER-AND-SOURCE-COMPETING-VISIONS-OF-THE-MEDIAS-ROLE-AND-FUNCTION.pdf

Administrative Office of the U.S. The first Amendment.
Retrieved fromhttp://www.uscourts.gov/EducationalResources/ClassroomActivities/FirstAmendment.aspx

Van Blerkom, (2008). Political Theories and the Media.
Retrieved from http://academic.cengage.com/resource_uploads/downloads/0495570540_155690.pdf

Shafer, J. (2003). The Times Scoops that Melted. Cataloging the wretched reporting of Judith Miller. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/press_box/2003/07/the_times_scoops_that_melted.html

To view Judith Miller’s work, you can click on this link http://www.judithmiller.com/articles/