The main source I used for the basic timeline were Miller's own writings in the Times over the course of her career.
Unfortunately, the Times archive online only reaches back to 1981. Miller began her employment at the Grey Lady four years earlier, in 1977, on the Washington Bureau desk, where she covered the securities industry, national politics and Congress. Prior to joining the Times, Miller worked briefly for NPR and The Progressive. She graduated from Barnard with an economics degree in 1969 (after doing her first two years at Ohio State), and received an MA in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School. She had no formal training in journalism, and only a few years of hands-on mostly freelance reporting when she joined the Times. But she had good connections: According to Wikipedia,
"She and her boyfriend Steven Rattner, also a Times reporter, became close friends of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the son of the then-publisher of the Times, whose first job at the Times, starting in 1978, was also as a reporter of the Washington bureau. For several summers, Miller and Rattner shared a weekend house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with Sulzberger and his wife, Gail.
When Miller's articles first appear in the Times archives in 1981, her attention was mostly focused on incoming President Reagan's staff, and the workings on The Hill. Very quickly over that year, however, her interests turned almost completely to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. By 1982, she added nuclear concerns, both strategic as well as energy based, to her repertoire, and by year's end, nuclear proliferation and arms control dominated most of her work for the Times.
In early 1983, changes were in the works for Miller. In March, her stories shifted to Southern race relations. In April, she was placed on the "Briefings" (political gossip) desk for the next six weeks.
Her big break came in late June, when Miller arrived in Egypt, as the first female head of the Times Cairo desk, covering most of the Middle East and North Africa. For the remainder of 1983 through to September, 1985, Miller focused most of her attention on Middle Eastern politics, with nary a nuclear article in site.
In late-August-early-September, 1985, Miller took an unexplained two week hiatus, which just happened to coincide with the first secret US-Israeli-Iranian discussions in Paris of the arms-for-hostages plan. A month after returning to Cairo, Miller began writing more and more about European, particularly French, politics. In late October, Miller's articles are dominated by France, France, France. As it turns out, Miller moved her base of operations to Paris, where she continued to cover the Middle East, while including some European coverage as well.
It is at that time that Bob Woodward revealed in a Washington Post article(1) that Miller was being used by John Poindexter to spread propaganda in the US's new "disinformation campaign" against Libyan president Omar el-Qaddafi. In 1986, Miller published a number of pieces such as "Qaddafi Also Facing Homegrown Opposition" (April 20, 1986) and "Many Faces of Qaddafi: Showman and Survivor" (June 14, 1986) which use material provided to Miller directly from Poindexter: Miller wrote that Qadaffi was barely in control politically, that he was clinically depressed, and addicted to drugs. Miller went on to claim Qadaffi propositioned her, but backed off when he learned her father was Jewish. All of this, despite the fact that less than a year before, she'd penned a piece for the Times entitled, "Challenges to Qaddafi Discounted" (Nov 13, 1985).
Now, to backtrack just a bit, one of the reasons Miller's cooperation with Poindexter was so significant is that it flies in the face of Miller's own article on the subject of clandestine relationships between secret government agencies and the media:
C.I.A. ON USING JOURNALISTS
By JUDITH MILLER, Special to the New York Times
WASHINGTON, June 8, 1982
Six years after the Central Intelligence Agency restricted the use of journalists as intelligence agents, the C.I.A. has reluctantly disclosed that journalists were used before the restriction in a variety of roles, ranging from couriers to case officers who secretly supervised other agents.
In a sworn statement submitted by the C.I.A. to settle a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, the agency also indicated that William J. Casey, the Director of Central Intelligence, has quietly committed himself to following the policy on the use of reporters as agents established by his predecessor. The policy bars the paid use of journalists for secret intelligence operations except in extraordinary circumstances such as ''an emergency involving human lives or critical national interests.''
The new document does not name the journalists used by the agency or their employers, nor does it say in which countries they worked. But it does, for the first time, describe their missions, as follows:
''Some, perhaps a plurality, were simply sources of foreign intelligence; others provided cover or served as a funding mechanism; some provided nonattributable material for use by the C.I.A., collaborated in or worked on C.I.A.-produced materials or were used for the placement of C.I.A.-prepared material in the foreign media; others assisted in nonmedia activities by spotting, assessing or recruiting potential sources or by handling other agents, and still others assisted by providing access to individuals of intelligence interest or by generating local support for U.S. policies and activities. Finally, with respect to some of these individuals, the C.I.A. simply provided informational assistance or requested assistance in suppressing a media item such as a news story.''
A lawyer for the agency said that the phrase ''handling other agents'' meant that journalists had on occasion served as case officers, those who direct and support other agents' activities by assigning priorities for intelligence collection, debriefing agents on what they have learned, preparing reports based on this information, arranging logistical support, such as purchasing cameras and other espionage equipment, and paying the agents.
Washington Post icon Carl Bernstein, in a 1977 article in Rolling Stone, estimated that 400 American journalists had been tied to the CIA at one point or another, including such well known media figures as the Alsop brothers, Arthur Hayes and C.L. Sulzberger of the New York Times, and Philip Graham of the Washington Post. Later, the New York Times reported that the CIA had owned or subsidized more than 50 newspapers, news services, radio stations, and periodicals, mostly overseas and owner Arthur Hayes Sulzberger admitted that he had signed a "secrecy agreement" with the Agency.
The scandal originally broke a few years earlier. In 1975, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence headed by Frank Church opened hearing on the CIA-media connection. CIA directors William Colby and his successor George H.W. Bush, argued that although it might have been ethically questionable for the CIA to employ reporters, they weren't about to actually come clean on the people they had in place, as it would have cause a tremendous uproar due to the scope of the infiltration. The CIA eventually won, and while George Bush promised to curtail the program, he didn't promise to end it.
But back to Miller, lounging in Paris, drinking Beaujolais (or at least writing about it) throughout 1986, while all around US, Israeli and Iranian operatives plan and plot the sale of thousands of US missiles.
Ironically, once the fun ended for Reagan conspirators, having been exposed in late November 1986, Miller ended her Paris interlude, and headed back to the Washington Bureau desk, where she took over as news editor and deputy bureau chief. Over the next three and a half years, from January 1987 to September 1990, Miller published a total of 30 articles, the majority of them in '88 as part of the "Washington Talk" "briefing" with David Binder.
Miller, however, was drafted back into beat reporter status in late September, 1990, when Kuwait announced that they suspected the US was giving up on economic sanctions. From then on, Miller banged the drum of war, fueling the fire for US intervention in the Gulf Crisis between Iraq and Kuwait. Over the next nine months, Miller penned 92 articles on the war and it's regional effects. After the war ends, Miller went back on the wagon, with less than 30 articles over the next 4 years. It was not until the current Iraqi crisis began to heat up, did we see much of Miller in the columns of the Times.
But that is another post. I'm not exactly sure what to make of all the above, but there appears to be a pattern which I'm not ready to conclude is purely random. I hope to follow-up in the next few days on Miller more recent past, at least via her journalistic career, which ties in much of her past to the current Plame scandal.
(Originally posted at Wampum, where Part II will be posted soon.)
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