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Jailed reporter reaches deal in CIA leak probe

The New York Times' Miller: 'It's good to be free'

New York Times reporter Judith Miller after she testified before a federal grand jury Friday.



Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Judith Miller
The New York Times

(CNN) -- After spending 12 weeks in jail for refusing to name a source, The New York Times reporter Judith Miller testified Friday before a federal grand jury looking into a CIA leak case after her source gave her permission.

Miller said she agreed to testify before the grand jury only after she received a personal letter and telephone call from her source, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and a promise from the special investigator that her testimony would be limited to her communication between her and her source.

Libby made a telephone call to Miller in prison September 19 to personally free her from the pledge of confidentiality, a move that contributed to her release, Libby's attorney, Joseph Tate of Philadelphia, told CNN.

"These were not form waivers," Miller said after leaving federal court in Washington. "They were not discussions among lawyers." (Watch Miller's statement -- 5:43| Text)

"I testified as soon as I could," she said. "I knew what my conscience would allow."

Miller did not identify the source.

"I am hopeful that my very long stay in jail will serve to strengthen the bond between reporters and their sources," Miller said.

She did not discuss her testimony before the grand jury.

New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said the newspaper supported Miller's decision to testify.

"We are very pleased that she has finally received a direct and uncoerced waiver, by phone and in writing, releasing her from any claim of confidentiality and enabling her to testify," he said in a statement.

Miller was released from a federal facility in Alexandria, Virginia, about 4 p.m. after a contempt order against her was vacated by a federal judge, a source with detailed knowledge of her case told CNN.

Had refused to testify

The chain of events that led to the contempt charges against Miller began in July 2003, when syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who is also a CNN contributor, identified Valerie Plame as a CIA operative in his column. He cited unidentified senior administration sources for the information.

Plame's husband is Joe Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Wilson charged that his wife's name was leaked to retaliate against him after he disputed Bush administration statements that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium in Africa.

Because federal law makes it a crime to deliberately reveal the identity of a CIA operative, the Justice Department launched an investigation, headed by Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago.

As part of his probe, Fitzgerald subpoenaed a number of journalists to testify about their sources, including Miller. Despite the fact that she never actually wrote a story on Plame or Wilson, Miller refused to testify about sources she developed during her reporting, and she was jailed for contempt in July.

She could have been held in jail until October, when the grand jury's term will expire.

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said that until recently, Miller had received "only a generic waiver" of her confidentiality promise, "and she believed she had ample reason to doubt it had been freely given."

"In recent days, several important things have changed that convinced Judy that she was released from her obligation," Keller said in a statement. He did not provide details of what those changes were.

Miller said in her statement that she would not comment until after she testifies before the grand jury.

'Why didn't someone call us?'

After news broke Thursday of Miller's release from prison, Tate said Libby signed a waiver of confidentiality more than a year ago and that Tate followed up with a phone call to Abrams assuring him Libby's waiver was voluntary.

But Tate said Miller's attorney, Bob Bennett, told him over the Labor Day weekend that Miller did not accept that waiver because "it came from lawyers."

Tate said he wondered "why didn't someone call us 80 days ago" -- before Miller entered prison.

Tate said Libby has testified before the grand jury about his "conversations with Judy Miller and everyone else."

While it was unclear what Libby said in his testimony, Tate said Libby "did not know the name Valerie Plame until he read it in Robert Novak's article."

Tate also mentioned two Washington Post reporters, Glenn Kessler and Walter Pincus. He said both men have testified that they did not talk to Libby about the case.

CNN's Kelly Wallace and Dana Bash contributed to this report.

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