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Judy Miller Meets the Grand Jury: Take Two


What a difference 11 days -- and a suddenly discovered set of notes -- can make.

After her first grand jury appearance, Judy Miller preened for the cameras triumphantly and talked about going to jail for her principles.

There were no such remarks after today's appearance. No attacks on blanket waivers or calls for a federal shield law. No wistful longings for a hug from her dog and a meal with her husband. Indeed, exiting the courthouse after her testimony, neither Miller nor Bob Bennett had anything to say.

And I know you can't tell a book -- or a $1.2 million book deal -- by its cover but, by all outward appearances, the hour Miller spent testifying this morning was not an easy one. On her way into the courthouse, decked out in a bright red blouse and oversized shades, Miller was all smiles, chatting easily with Bennett. Afterwards, she was decidedly less bubbly. Kind of like, oh, I don't know, an Aspen tree clustered with other Aspens that have been hit by a hatchet and are starting to lose sap?

Another difference: after her first appearance, Miller was joined by (and got all verklempt over) Arthur Sulzberger. Today, "Pinch" stayed away... a chicken entrail that can be picked over by Pinchologists looking for signs of what's going on behind-closed-doors at the Times.

For journalists more interested in red meat than chicken entrails, a couple of points worth looking into:

In his Sept. 15 letter to Miller giving her the okay to testify (while signaling her with purple prose what she should and shouldn't say?), Libby writes: "The Special Counsel identified every reporter with whom I had spoken about anything in July 2003, including you." Nowhere does he mention June. So did Miller have "a personal, voluntary waiver" from Libby to testify only about July -- or about June as well? Or did the woman who spent 85 days in jail to protect her source turn around and do something she said she'd never do?

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time. Throughout her legal battle, Miller always insisted she wouldn't allow herself to be put in the position where Fitzgerald could call her back in front of the grand jury and question her about whatever he wanted. "I didn't want to participate in a fishing expedition," she told Lou Dobbs after her release. "We had asked the special counsel over a year ago, would he narrow his investigation to the source of his interest and the subject of interest? And he wouldn't do it then. When he agreed to do it... I knew I'd be able to get out of jail." Well, now she's been in to the grand jury two times, with an additional meeting with Fitzgerald yesterday. No word on whether he had his waders on, and his tackle box out.

Indeed, a year ago, Miller sounded as if today was exactly the kind of day she went to jail to avoid. Here's what she told Aaron Brown on October 25, 2004:

I didn't want to start to go down the road of testifying about someone who may or may not be a source, because, at this point, the focus of Mr. Fitzgerald's inquiry has been on one person. But, as we've seen from Matt Cooper, if you make a deal to discuss that one person who may or may not have given a voluntary waiver, what about what happens when Mr. Fitzgerald's target of interest or person of interest shifts?

And then there's another person and another person who comes under suspicion. And, eventually, somebody might actually get to one of your sources, if they haven't already. I just decided that the position has got to be, if I promised someone confidentiality, whether or not he was a source on a particular story, I'm not going to go in and testify about what that person told me.

One person, then another person, then another person? It sounds like Judy has taken more than one step down the road she wanted to steer clear of. Has the journey of a thousand reversals begun?