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2003-07-02

Another New York Times Scandal? Officers Say Embedded Reporter Judith Miller Influenced Military Decisions in Iraq, Provided Intelligence & Took Part in Army Ceremony

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We talk to Harper’s Magazine Publisher Rick MacArthur who compares The New York Times to the state-run newspapers of the Soviet Union. And we broadcast an excerpt of a recent address by Miller on journalistic ethics.

"Embedded Reporter’s Role In Army Unit’s Actions Questioned by Military." That is the headline to a recent article by Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz.

The article began:

“New York Times reporter Judith Miller played a highly unusual role in an Army unit assigned to search for dangerous Iraqi weapons, according to U.S. military officials, prompting criticism that the unit was turned into what one official called a "rogue operation."

“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."

The article goes on to report that:

Miller also took part in a military ceremony in Baghdad where the leader of the MET Alpha team was promoted. She pinned the rank to his uniform and he publicly thanked her for her contributions.

The Post also quotes officers who say Miller used her power as a reporter for The New York Times and her connections in the Pentagon to influence decisions by the military.

When the Army considered withdrawing the Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha from an Iraqi town Miller complained to a two-star general and she threatened to write negative stories in the Times. The pullback order was soon rescinded.

  • Judith Miller, reporter with The New York Times speaking at the Barnard College commencement in New York on May 20. Read full transcript of remarks at Barnard.
  • Rick MacArthur, publisher of Harper’s Magazine and author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War.
  • Jules Crittenden, reporter for the Boston Herald who was embedded with the military in Iraq.

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