February 16, 2005
2 Reporters Express Dismay but Say They're Resolute
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
The two reporters at the center of the case involving disclosure of the identity of Valerie Plame, a C.I.A. operative, said yesterday that they were disappointed with the decision upholding a lower court's ruling that found them in contempt for refusing to name sources. But they vowed to fight to the last appeal.
One of the two, Judith Miller, a veteran reporter for The New York Times, said: "A case like mine is a warning to people not to talk because the government will come after you, and that's what we're fighting. That's what the press ought to be concentrating on: the threats to the First Amendment and the free press."
Ms. Miller was among a group of Times journalists who won a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for reporting they did on Al Qaeda, and much of her work has focused on national security and government secrecy. Most recently, she has written about the controversy surrounding the United Nations oil-for-food program.
The other reporter involved in the contempt case, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, has a side career doing stand-up comedy, including dead-on impersonations of politicians. He writes about politics and politicians, and was the first to disclose, in June, that President Bush had been given Saddam Hussein's pistol and kept it in a small room off the Oval Office.
Mr. Cooper said he kept the Plame case in perspective by thinking about his Time colleague Michael Weisskopf, who was in a Humvee in Iraq when someone tossed in a hand grenade. Mr. Weisskopf picked up the grenade and threw it out, saving the lives of several people but losing his right hand in the process.
"He sits down the hall from me," Mr. Cooper said. "I think yes, what I'm putting up with is tedious and unsettling, but it's nothing compared to that kind of personal sacrifice."
Ms. Miller, 57, grew up in Miami and Los Angeles, and attended Ohio State University, Barnard College and the Institute of European Studies at the University of Brussels. She earned a master's degree in economics from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton in 1972.
She joined The Times's Washington bureau in 1977 and in 1983 became the first woman to be chief of the paper's Cairo bureau. She has written four books.
Ms. Miller has been a target of media critics who contend that her articles on unconventional weapons helped provide the Bush administration's justification for going to war in Iraq.
In an interview yesterday, she said she hoped to separate the issue of her own career from that of protecting sources.
"My strategy is to tell anyone who will listen that this is not about me, this is really about their right to know," she said, adding, "For all the mistakes that we journalists make at times, try running a functioning democracy without us."
She added that the Plame case had been "debilitating" for her and had limited her ability to do her job. "It's tough to travel, to be away, in case there are developments or a decision," she said.
Mr. Cooper, 42, grew up in South Orange, N.J., and studied history at Columbia University. He was an editor at The Washington Monthly, wrote about the White House for The New Republic and covered politics for three years at Newsweek before moving to Time in 1999 as deputy chief of the Washington bureau.
He said yesterday that he was going about his daily duties of covering the White House and going on trips with President Bush, focusing on the Plame case only when he had to.
He said he was not dwelling on the chance that he might go to jail, and had yet to explain his situation to his 6-year-old son.
"Why worry him until you have to?" Mr. Cooper said. "I'm teaching him about respect for the law and the rule of law, and it's hard to explain why Daddy finds himself in a legal predicament."