New York Times Ombudsman Backs Paper Over Miller

The New York Times' ombudsman said the newspaper should review reporter Judith Miller's (search) journalism practices to address "clear issues of trust and credibility" in her role in the CIA leak investigation. Miller's attorney called the newspaper's recent criticism of her "shameless."

Times Public Editor Byron Calame (search) also said the paper should consider updating its ethics guidelines on using anonymous sources and quoted publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. as saying "there are new limits" on what Miller can do in the future.

Calame wrote in a Sunday column that the Times and Miller's Oct. 16 accounts of the reporting that landed Miller in jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury "suggested that the journalistic practices of Ms. Miller and Times editors were more flawed than I feared."

Miller went to jail for 85 days rather than testify to a grand jury investigating the leaking of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity. She was released Sept. 29 and agreed to testify after her source, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (search), released her from a promise of confidentiality.

Executive Editor Bill Keller (search) wrote to Times' staff last week that Miller may have misled the paper by saying she was not one of the recipients of a leak about Plame's identity. Miller said that criticism was inaccurate.

"The Times needs to review Ms. Miller's journalistic practices as soon as possible, especially because she disputes some accounts of her conduct that have come to light since the leak investigation began," Calame wrote.

Calame noted Miller's assertion that she recommended to an editor that a story be pursued on Valerie Plame (search) but was told there was no interest. Miller's boss at the time, Jill Abramson, said Miller didn't make such a request, and Calame wrote that he believed Abramson, now the paper's managing editor.

Miller's attorney, Robert Bennett, said on Sunday that the newspaper is trying to deflect criticism of its own coverage of the leak investigation by targeting the 57-year-old Miller.

"Judy did nothing that the New York Times did not want her to do," Bennett said. "They encouraged her to stay in jail."

"It's shameless. They should be praising her for doing what they wanted, for going to jail for 85 days to uphold an important principle, which she did," he said. "They are not treating her very well and I think it's very disgraceful."

Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Sunday.