June 25, 2003

THIS PUTS A WHOLE NEW SPIN ON AGGRESSIVE REPORTING:

More than a half-dozen military officers said that Miller acted as a middleman between the Army unit with which she was embedded and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, on one occasion accompanying Army officers to Chalabi’s headquarters, where they took custody of Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law. She also sat in on the initial debriefing of the son-in-law, these sources say.

Since interrogating Iraqis was not the mission of the unit, these officials said, it became a “Judith Miller team,” in the words of one officer close to the situation.

In April, Miller wrote a letter objecting to an Army commander’s order to withdraw the unit, Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, from the field. She said this would be a “waste” of time and suggested that she would write about it unfavorably in the Times. After Miller took up the matter with a two-star general, the pullback order was dropped.

On the other hand,

Viewed from one perspective, Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent, nationally recognized expert on weapons of mass destruction and co-author of a best-selling book on bioterrorism, was acting as an aggressive journalist. She ferreted out sources, used her long-standing relationship with Chalabi to pursue potential stories and, in the process, helped the United States take custody of two important Iraqis. Some military officers say she cared passionately about her reporting without abandoning her objectivity, and some of her critics may be overly concerned with regulations and perhaps jealous of the attention Miller’s unit received.

I link. You decide.