One thing is clear about special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of White House officials: the Iraq war lies and cover-up are vast and ugly. Bush administration officials have blood on their hands. And so do The New York Times and its reporter Judith Miller.

Miller and the Times wrapped themselves in support for First Amendment press freedoms and source confidentiality in the Plame investigation. Miller just received the Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment award for her 85-day jail stay. When she went to jail, our paper called for protection of anonymous whistleblowers in uncovering government misdeeds. But this case is not about that.

Probably more than any other news source, it was Miller’s reporting, prominently featured by the Times, that helped the administration sell the Iraq war. Hell-bent on invading Iraq, the Bush administration got its top foreign policy hawks on the job to link Saddam Hussein and the specter of a nuclear attack on the U.S. They called it the White House Iraq Group, and Bush operatives Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Mary Matalin, Stephen Hadley and Karen Hughes were among its members. But they needed a conduit to spread their message. And they found it in Miller.

According to rawstory.com, “WHIG relied heavily on New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who, after meeting with several of the organization’s members in August 2002, wrote an explosive story that many critics of the war believe laid the groundwork for military action against Iraq.” That Sept. 8, 2002, story, on aluminum tubes Iraq supposedly wanted to produce nuclear weapons, turned out to be baseless and was later repudiated by the Times. The New York Daily News reported that WHIG was “funneling information to Judy Miller. Judy was a charter member.”

Last year, professional misconduct by Times reporter Jayson Blair forced his resignation and led to the departure of the paper’s two top editors. Shouldn’t Miller and the Times’ top brass be held to the same standard today? After all, Blair’s actions didn’t lead to thousands of deaths. Miller’s did.

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