York Times Reporter Judith Miller Speaks At A Southern California
By Tom Clanin
Judith Miller, The New York Times reporter who spent 85 days
in federal prison for refusing to identify a source to federal
prosecutors, told a Fullerton audience Saturday, October 15th
that she believes her refusal to cooperate sends a message
to other government whistle blowers and leakers that reporters
can be trusted to keep their word.
Miller attended the California First Amendment Coalition's
10th annual Open Government Assembly to present an award to
Mark Felt, who admitted recently that he was "Deep Throat":
Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
confidential source for their Watergate
Miller told the luncheon audience at Cal State Fullerton
that confidential sources "are the lifeblood our profession."
"Without Mark Felt, the public would not have known
that a third-rate burglary was the tip of the iceberg of corruption
and malfeasance," she said. "The country owes Mark
Felt an enormous debt."
Miller said there is a growing threat to reporters who try
to protect sources like Felt, but without these sources, "the
public would only know what people in power what them to know."
She said that people have varied motives, both good and bad,
for wanting to leak information, but that truth and the significance
of the information is more important than the motive or political
affiliation of the source.
Miller said 39 states and District of Columbia have shield
laws protecting reporting, and she called on the journalists
in the audience to lobby and editorialize for a federal shield
She said she agreed to testify only after her source, identified
as vice presidential aide Lewis Libby, had convinced her in
both a letter and phone call that "he really, really
wanted me to testify."
Nick Jones, Mark Felt's grandson, accepted the award for
Felt, who could not attend. Jones said Felt was thankful and
Jones said his grandfather is in good health, "but he's
92 and his memory isn't as sharp as it once was."