Judith Miller’s Security Clearance
Somehow, I missed the news that New York Times reporter Judith Miller had a securty clearance.
Ivo Daalder noted it on October 16:
. . . Miller, by her own admission, was cleared to see secret information as part of her assignment as an “embedded” reporter in Iraq.
I had no idea journalists could receive security clearances — and I had no idea that the mainstream media would allow their reporters to have such clearances. After all, one of the most important obligations of a person receiving security clearances is not to reveal that information at any time, while one of the most important obligations of a reporter is precisely to reveal information the public has a need and right to know.
I had no idea, either, and share Daalder’s puzzlement that Miller or the Times would have agreed to this arrangement. How one who is in the business of telling the public what she learns can be granted access to classified material, let alone want it and the restrictions that come with it, escapes me.
In my grand jury testimony, Mr. Fitzgerald repeatedly turned to the subject of how Mr. Libby handled classified information with me. He asked, for example, whether I had discussed my security status with Mr. Libby. During the Iraq war, the Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret information as part of my assignment “embedded” with a special military unit hunting for unconventional weapons.
Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I had discussed classified information with Mr. Libby. I said I believed so, but could not be sure. He asked how Mr. Libby treated classified information. I said, Very carefully.
I told Mr. Fitzgerald that Mr. Libby might have thought I still had security clearance, given my special embedded status in Iraq. At the same time, I told the grand jury I thought that at our July 8 meeting I might have expressed frustration to Mr. Libby that I was not permitted to discuss with editors some of the more sensitive information about Iraq.
Daalder notes that, if Libby thought Miller had an active clearance, it would potentially be a defense for revealing Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA officer to her. That strikes me as unlikely. Contrary to the image presented in movies like “Top Gun,” a security clearance is not akin to a library card. Access to classified information is releasable only to those with a need to know, which would seemingly not include Miller.