Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Judith Miller shared some sharp
criticisms against the Obama administration’s “criminalization of news
gathering” and the state of journalism at a Jerusalem Press Club lecture in the
capital Wednesday evening.
During the lecture at the the Konrad Adenauer
Conference Center, titled “Preserving Freedom of the Press” and moderated by
Bloomberg News reporter Calev Ben-David, Miller did not hide her contempt for US
President Barack Obama’s infringement on the press’s civil
“Investigative reporting is dangerous and hasn’t been as bad
as it is now with the Obama administratio since Watergate,” she said. “Obama has
the worst record of civil liberties of any president since Nixon.”
cited the US Justice Department’s “systematic targeting” of Associated Press
reporters, Fox News correspondent James Rosen and WikiLeaks publisher Julian
Assange by invoking the Espionage Act against them as examples of “criminalizing
“Am I worried about what is going on in America?” she
asked. “Yes. We have a president who is doing terrible things in the name of
‘national security.’” A member of The New York Times team that won a Pulitzer
Prize for “explanatory reporting,” Miller, now a Fox News correspondent, may be
most notable for her refusal to reveal her sources during the Valerie Plame
Affair, when the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed,
compromising national security.
Miller noted the difficulty investigative
journalists face in walking the line between harming national security and doing
their jobs, and cited Israeli journalists as veterans at dealing with this
“The First Amendment is sacred, but security is more sacred, and
Israeli journalists have struggled with this – to find the line between a threat
to national security versus what is politically embarrassing,” she said. “You guys have wrestled with this much
longer than we have.”
Regarding Miller’s Fox News colleague James Rosen,
against whom the US Department of Justice invoked the Espionage Act last month
and monitored his personal emails and phone calls, Miller again lambasted the
In the case, a government adviser was accused of
leaking information after a 2009 story by Rosen was published in which he
reported that North Korea planned to respond to looming UN sanctions with
another nuclear test.
Subsequent court documents filed in 2011 and made
public last month show an affidavit filed by the FBI claiming there was evidence
Rosen broke the law – “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or
co-conspirator” – by publishing his findings.
“I have particular fury
over what happened to James Rosen,” she said. “The Espionage Act has been used
six times by Obama – he has used this act to criminalize reporting more than any
other president in history and [he] gets away with it because he is a Democrat
and African-American, which we’re proud of.”
She also criticized the
Justice Department’s handling of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.
department accused Assange of aiding Osama Bin Laden in planning future attacks
against the United States by releasing classified information.
US government to be trying to go after him is very troubling,” she said.
“[Assange] is a true publisher.”
Meanwhile, Miller said that the reason
many news organizations are closing down is due to the ubiquitous inability to
create a successful digital business model that is self-sustaining and
“I’m more pessimistic than many of my colleagues who think we
have more news than ever before,” she said. “No, we have more gossip than ever
before – and there are fewer and fewer news organizations who spend the money
necessary to gather real news.”
Miller continued, “I want to see an
online answer to this [problem], but I haven’t seen one. What are we
transitioning to? Despite all this technology, papers are closing
Asked about the ongoing incarceration of Jonathan Pollard, Miller
said that while she was not aware of all the details of the case, there was no
question that a “succession of CIA and FBI directors” have made it clear that
they will not release him.
“Almost every single CIA and FBI director has
said they would quit if Pollard is released from [prison],” she said. “This is a
succession of the angriest CIA and FBI directors I’ve ever seen – so he must
have done something pretty terrible.”
Miller retired from the Times in
2005, and apart from her work at Fox News, is a fellow at the Manhattan
Institute and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. •
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