As Jail Looms, Judy Miller Launches Web Site

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By: Joe Strupp

On the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Judith Miller’s appeal of a contempt-of-court order for refusing to name a confidential source, The New York Times reporter launched her own Web site, www.judithmiller.org, which she contends will help her publicize the case.

“It is supposed to call attention to the case,” Miller told E&P Tuesday morning via cell phone as she was rushing to the office. “I put it up starting yesterday. It will help bring attention to the case and the issues that the case raises.”

Web designer Joshua Tanzer, who is operating the site for Miller pro bono, said it might even became home to a jail-based blog of sorts if Miller is put behind bars. “Part of the plan if she is in jail is to write about what she is going through,” Tanzer told E&P. Miller said she had not considered such an idea, but added, “anything’s possible.”

Miller and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine face up to 18 months in jail for declining to name the source (or sources) who leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame to them. Following a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday not to hear the case, the pair returns Wednesday to U.S District Court Judge Thomas Hogan, who found them in contempt last fall.

Hogan is expected to reaffirm his original order, which would mean the reporters could be in jail as early as this week. Miller declined to comment on the case itself, other than to say she was disappointed at the high court’s decision.

But she promoted the Web site as a good way to have the facts of the case put forth, as well as supportive viewpoints. “It is largely focused on the case,” she said about the site, which includes several news articles about recent developments, including two E&P web stories from Monday. “Anything that is relative to the case can go up.”

The site also includes background information on Miller, links to other First Amendment-related articles, and information on her two books. (Miller has also been at the center of criticism for her reporting on Iraqi WMDs.) It has a link to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, as well as several articles from that organization.

“Eventually, we hope to put some of the [court] briefs up there,” she said. “I hope we get to do that.”

Miller said she would not likely be writing additional pieces for the site or starting a blog. “I don’t know a lot about this Web stuff,” she said with a laugh. “I have a full time job writing for The New York Times. I don’t need to write for a blog.”

She also stressed that she did not plan to write Web-only items about the case that might be used as part of her defense, choosing to remain quiet on that subject as the case proceeds. “I am not advocating anything on the site, except to call attention to some of the work I’ve done and what I think is at stake here.” She added that it may “evolve into an author’s Web site.”

Tanzer, who is a Web developer for Business Week, met Miller last year at a speech she gave related to the Plame case in New York. “He wanted to help,” Miller recalled. “He thought it would help to bring attention and he has been helping me since.”

Tanzer said he wanted to support Miller because she was willing to take the heat for a source, and thus for all reporters: “I think it is courageous of her and Matt Cooper to stand up for the rights of all of us.”

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