Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Larry King Live
Interview With Judith Miller
Aired November 10, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive: Judith Miller, the controversial reporter who's spent 85 days in jail over the CIA leak investigation for refusing to testify about her source, the vice president's chief of staff, Scooter Libby. And now, she speaks out in her first TV interview since ending a 28-year career at "The New York Times" yesterday. Judith Miller for the hour is next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
Pulitzer Prize winner, long renowned as a great journalist, frequent guest here on this program -- we go back a long way -- Judith Miller, now formerly of "The New York Times."
Was this something that had to happen, Judy?
JUDITH MILLER: I think it did, Larry. It was a long time coming. It's hard to leave an institution as terrific, as great as "The New York Times," but the time had really come.
KING: As you look back on all of this -- and we'll get into a lot of it -- what would you change? What would you do differently?
MILLER: You know, not really much, Larry. I keep asking myself that question, is there anything I would have done or could have done or should have done? But I was -- I think I was left with no choice but to go to jail, and I was very pleased with my decision to come out of jail after I got what I thought was the terms that I had set when I went into jail. I really don't know what kind of brought about this 40-day tsunami on me, these attacks after I came out of jail, but I am very comfortable with the decision that I made, and my conscience is clear, and I guess I wouldn't change much.
KING: All right, let's speak of those attacks in a minute. You were praised highly and people appeared on this show, let's stand by her and stand up -- and then suddenly things came out that you didn't report this or didn't report that, and suddenly, a lot of people took you on, including Maureen Dowd at your own paper. Arianna Huffington went like wild about you. What do you make of that?
MILLER: Well, I think I just want to talk about the serious attacks and criticism. What "Newsweek" magazine called "The New York Times'" war on Miller. And I just have to say, Larry, that I was never at war with "The New York Times." I never considered myself at war with the newspaper, and I was stunned and saddened by those attacks. I hadn't expected them. Nobody told me they were coming. And after them, I really decided that I had to think seriously about my future there. KING: Why do you think they came?
MILLER: I think a lot of people in management and in the newsroom didn't really understand why I had left jail, and they didn't understand or agree with my decision to testify. I think that was part of it. I think part of it was a kind of lingering fury over the WMD reporting, the fact that some of the stories that I had written, some of the handful of stories that I had written over a 28-year career had turned out to be based on faulty intelligence.
And they were wrong. They were definitely wrong. And so there was anger in the newsroom over that. Great pride in my decision to go to jail. But when I came out of jail, I don't think the paper, and perhaps I, didn't do a very good job of explaining to people what we had accomplished and why I felt I could walk out of jail and testify, and why it was the right thing to do.
So there were all of these questions raised and none of them, or almost none of them, was answered very effectively by the newsroom management. So, I think the crisis just built and built until it became kind of untenable.
KING: Safe to say, then, you were disappointed?
MILLER: I was enormously disappointed. But I must add that I am now enormously gratified by Bill Keller's decision, that is the executive editor of the paper, to, I'll use his words, clarify the very hurtful and untrue remarks that he made about me in a message to the staff.
He has done that, I think it was the right thing to do, and I am grateful for him to having stepped up to the plate and done the right thing.
KING: Were you angry at his implication? It was more of an implication, that you had some sort of personal relationship with Scooter Libby?
MILLER: Well, Mr. Keller is a very careful writer and when he used the word, entanglement, in a memo to the staff, I think it had unfortunate connotations that he now acknowledges. And he knows that was not true. I had nothing but a proper relationship with Mr. Libby. Scooter Libby was a source, as the world now knows, and as I wrote in The New York Times and have testified to, to a grand jury.
But it was an absolutely professional relationship and I'm delighted to see that the paper has now acknowledged that.
KING: On the personal level, did the Dowd article, and I won't go back to it. Did it hurt you, personally? A fellow columnist. Well, she's a columnist, you're a reporter.
MILLER: I think it -- of course it's painful. It's painful because she had come to see me in jail and had not written anything about that. It was painful because I hadn't expected it. It was painful because I had always admired her reporting and praised her work.
And all of the sudden, I was taken once again, by surprise, by an attack on me and my reporting, and I was disappointed. And I was also very discouraged and disappointed in the fact that The New York Times would not let me respond to her column, which I have now done, on my Web site and I'm doing here tonight.
The Web site being www.judithmiller.org. The responses to the attacks on me can be seen there, in full. And some response, another response will appear in the public editor column on Sunday. I'm very delighted with that as well.
KING: Why didn't "The Times" let you respond?
MILLER: I really don't know. You'll have to ask them. I know that the paper usually cares about fairness, or it claims to. I think they did let me respond today in the reporter's farewell that I wrote and which appeared in the letters to the editor. I was very pleased to have that space.
And I really leave now with no regrets and continued great affection and respect for the paper. And every hope and belief that it will continue to be the great institution that it is.
KING: Let's discuss something about sources and help us as a newspaper woman who delves into this thing all the time. Here's one of the things that has been written. Let's say Scooter Libby tells you there's weapons of mass destruction there. We know this. And he's a good source, he's been a good source in the past, so you print it. After you print it, Vice President Cheney then says to a Senate committee or whatever, it's in the "New York Times." So you become the conduit of a fact that was never a fact.
MILLER: Well, Larry, I can't talk about anything that Scooter Libby may or may not have told me, because I may be a witness in his trial if there is to be one. So I have to stay far, far away from that subject I'm afraid, as I'm sure Matt Cooper's lawyers as "Time" magazine and Tim Russert's lawyers at NBC are telling him. I'd like to talk about that but I really can't.
I think if we could just look at the general issue, that you raise which is how do you know when somebody is telling you something that they're not trying to use you to get information out? Well, you know, that happens in Washington all of the time. People, journalists are used in order to convey a message.
I think the job of the journalist is to try and tell the reader of the viewer to the greatest extent possible where the information is coming from and why that information is being given to you, and also to try and vet that information with outside sources and other people who may not have an ax to grind or may have a different ax to grind.
And then you present it, and you know what? If it's wrong, you go back and you say it was wrong and you do a second story, and a third story, until you get as close to the truth as you can get. It's not sexy journalism, but it's the way I think it ought to be done, and it's the way I tried to do it.
KING: We'll be right back with Judith Martin, formerly of the "New York Times." I said Martin. I don't know. Judith Miller, of the -- we've given her a new name. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: Boy, am I happy to be free and finally able to talk to all of you. Recently I heard directly from my source that I should testify before the grand jury. This was in the form of a person letter, and most important, a telephone conversation, a telephone call to me at the jail. I concluded from this that my source genuinely wanted me to testify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Judith Miller is our guest. Right or wrong, the shield laws that would protect those people like a guy working at a tobacco company who has news that -- about nicotine. It's to protect him or her, not so much the journalist, right? The shield law is to protect the informer.
MILLER: Absolutely. It's sometimes called a reporter's privilege or reporter's shield law, but that's not its purpose. It is to protect the whistle-blower, the person who comes to us with information that the government or a powerful corporation doesn't want us to know. It's really protection for the publics right to know. And that's why I feel it's so important now, when it's becoming increasingly difficult for sources of all kinds to come forward.
KING: All right. Does a reporter have an obligation when told by a source something, to confide in her editor the name of the source?
MILLER: If it's going to be the kind of source whom one is expected to go to jail to protect, yes, I believe they do. At the "New York Times,' they certainly do.
KING: So you told your editors?
MILLER: I told my editors when this became an issue for which is was subpoenaed. Remember, Larry, I never wrote a story about Joe Wilson or Valerie Plame. And therefore, there was really nothing to report. But I did, as I testified to the grand jury, I did recommend that a tip that I had received from Mr. Libby be pursued. I didn't know whether or not it was a story. I wasn't sure what the story was, but I definitely wanted to look into it.
KING: Were shocked with Robert Novak wrote it?
MILLER: I knew it before Robert Novak wrote it.
KING: You know he would write it? MILLER: No. I didn't know that he was going to write it, but I had similar information. And that's why I had encouraged my editor to let us pursue it.
KING: Oh, you wanted to write it, then?
MILLER: I wanted to pursue a story. I didn't know if there was a story there. I didn't know whether or not it was really a story of how Mr. Wilson got his trip to Niger, what kind of job he had done, whether or not his wife had helped him get the trip, as the White House alleged, or whether or not the White House was trying to discredit Mr. Wilson.
I really didn't know which was the case when I first got the tip, but I -- since there was a story there, so I did want to pursue it, sure.
KING: But when a reporter has a source, he or she always tells someone above him who that source is. And that someone above him is supposed to keep in confidence, right? It's not a lone-wolf kind of thing?
MILLER: Oh, no. No. The idea that I was some kind of rogue reporter roaming through the news room -- every story at the "New York Times" is really carefully edited. All of mine have been. Reporters like me are assigned to stories. I was assigned to cover the oil-for- food investigation which involved both Iraq and weapons.
I was assigned to write about counterterrorism in New York. I wasn't out there doing this on my own. And normally, especially at a paper like "The Times," reporters are rather closely supervised.
KING: How did you get, then, the reputation of being the lone person who goes her own way? So many have said...
MILLER; I know. No. I think just because I'm pretty persistent and dogged about covering issues and stories that I think are of interest and importance to the American people. I mean, I was concerned about al Qaeda long before it became fashionable in Washington to be worried about it. My colleague Jeff Gerth and I wrote the first long serious piece about al Qaeda for the "New York Times" back in the mid-'60s (sic). And then, of course, there was the wonderful series that I was a participant in that won the Pulitzer Prize in January 2001 for our series, "Three Parts on al Qaeda," the threat it posed to the United States.
So, yes, I care passionately about threats to this country internal and external, and I work hard to make sure they get into the paper. And I guess that means that I'm an aggressive, pushy reporter. Guilty, as Bill Safire said, I'm not sometimes Ms. Congeniality.
I don't think I'm quite the kind of terror that people said I am, but I guess I can get pretty persistent when I think a story is worth pursuing.
KING: The smile clouds at Judy. OK, what about in areas of a crime? Let's say a source of yours, would you give him or her a pledge -- let's say you get the tip as to who the Oklahoma City bomber was, and you believe the source to be a good one, do you inform you editor then, and if you pledged you wouldn't reveal it to the police, can he or she reveal it to the police?
MILLER: No, I think when it comes to matters of law enforcement that affect the security of fellow Americans, you have to not only report it to your editors, but I think the newspaper, your news organization, has the responsibility to report a threat to the American public to law enforcement, and I don't think any responsible news organization would sit on that information if someone who was killed or damaged American -- the American -- fellow Americans is -- and could pose a threat, a future threat to them, I don't know of any news organizations that would cover up that information.
You know, some people have used that argument to say, we shouldn't have a federal shield law, but 49 states, Larry, and the District of Columbia, have passed a law or either have acted through the court system to protect the relationship between sources and reporters, because they want the public to get this information. And I think it's time for the federal government to catch up to what the states have done.
KING: If you learned who, on good authority, leaked to Robert Novak, would you print it?
MILLER: Well, I don't think any of us know who leaked...
KING: But I mean, suppose you got it on good authority, a source you've always trusted. What would you do with that?
MILLER: I don't know. I'd have to think about that. You know, I think it's somewhat odd that Mr. Novak has remained so quiet all these months about who it was, those two administration officials who gave him the name of Valerie Plame that led to that column that has caused so much adventure for the rest of us. I think that I understand now, having been embroiled in the legal system, which I wouldn't wish on any other reporter ever, but I think I understand why he's remaining silent on the advice of his counsel. But now that everyone else has said who their source was, pretty much, or almost everyone else, and what the information they were given was, since Mr. Novak started it all, I'd really be curious to know from him who the sources were, and whether or not he has cooperated with the grand jury, because even though everyone assumes he has, we've never heard that from him.
KING: When we come back, I'll ask Judith Miller -- we're going to talk a little later also about anthrax and other things she's written about -- but what do you do when a source you trust has misled you? How do you deal with that as a journalist?
We'll be right back with Judith Miller. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PATRICK FITZGERALD, SPECIAL COUNSEL: Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003. But Mr. Novak was not the first reporter to be told that Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, Ambassador Wilson's wife Valerie, worked at the CIA. Several other reporters were told. In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter, when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003, about Valerie Wilson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Judith Miller, formerly of "The New York Times." It's still hard to say that. You wrote a lot about weapons of mass destruction and forcefully so. Were you given wrong information? And obviously, it was wrong. There were no weapons of mass destruction.
KING: What do you do about the person who told you?
MILLER: Well, one thing you have to ask yourself is, were you being deliberately misled? And I have really gone back and thought about all of the people that I have talked to for that handful of stories. And I can honestly tell you, Larry, that I really don't believe that they were lying to me. I think they believed that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
And these sources, without identifying them, were Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. Policy wonks, people in the bureaucracy.
And every time I got a piece of information anonymously, I would always try and vet it with someone who would go on the record, who was supposedly an outside expert. Either a private expert or someone who worked at the United Nations inspection teams on Iraq.
But, when you're wrong, if they're wrong, you're going to be wrong. And boy, those stories were wrong. So now, the issue is, why were they wrong? Why was the information wrong and what happened to it when it got to the White House? Was it manipulated? Was it exaggerated?
That's what the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is supposed to be looking at. We've all been waiting for this report now, for a long, long time. So far, none of the other commissions have found any evidence of deliberate manipulation, of pressure.
But, I think we really deserve answers to those questions. And I'm sorry that a lot of media organizations didn't look into this either.
KING: Do you personally feel that maybe I was one of the ones who contributed, just through my little writing on it, to us going to war?
MILLER: I think that George Bush would have gone to war without Judy Miller, or The New York Times, or all the other papers that endorsed the Senate vote, that basically gave President Bush the authority to go to war, or the right to go to war.
I worry about the consequences of what I write every day. I wish I had known then what we now know. But, the answer to insufficient reporting and to faulty intelligence is more reporting. And Larry, what I'm sorrier about is the fact that I was not permitted to follow up on the stories, the original stories that I did. Because I was very motivated to try and find out what happened to the information. What happened to the intelligence? Was it slanted? Was it distorted? And I wasn't, unfortunately, given an opportunity to do that.
KING: Mr. Chalabi comes in tomorrow to speak to the Council on Foreign Relations. Are you going to go to that speech?
MILLER: I think I'm going to be in Washington tomorrow giving a speech of my own.
KING: He was a source of yours, was he not?
MILLER: For only a couple of stories, on WMD stories. I had covered the Iraqi opposition for a long time, as did other New York Times reporters. But, yes he was a named source. Ahmed Chalabi was never an anonymous source in one of my stories, and I always said that Mr. Chalabi was an opposition figure who was trying to overturn the Saddam Hussein regime.
KING: Do you suspect ...
MILLER: He was very open about his goal.
KING: Do you suspect him now of ulterior motives?
MILLER: No, I think he was very straightforward. He said, I want Saddam Hussein gone. I want the Americans to help me do it, and here's some information that I may -- that I think may be of interest to you. Now, I did not deal with Dr. Chalabi on the alleged connection between al Qaeda and Iraq.
I didn't write those stories, but others at my paper did, and they were also cited in the famous editor's note that was critical of that reporting. But I think that our responsibility was to identify where the information came from and what Dr. Chalabi's motives were in giving it to us, and he did that, and I think for the most part we did that.
KING: Do you think the image of the "New York Times" has been reduced?
MILLER: I hope not, because I think it's an extraordinary institution filled with enormously talented people who produced a quality product almost every single day against incredible odds sometimes. I've been very proud of my career there. I've been delighted to work with such talented people. There's some individuals there I clear -- in management I've clearly not gotten along with, but for the institution I have nothing but respect.
KING: But do you think they've lost some of their reputation?
MILLER: You know what? I really don't think that's for me to say. I'm deeply saddened by the attacks on me. I wish they hadn't happened, but the paper has done the right thing now in setting the record straight and giving me a chance to respond.
And Larry, I'm ready to move on and not to hold grudges and I have a kind of quaint, old-fashioned idea that you don't trash colleagues and you don't trash an institution you're working for. And I'm not going to trash former colleagues either, or the institution that I've worked for, happily, for so many years.
KING: More with Judith Miller right after these words. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Judith Miller. How do you feel about Scooter Libby and his being arrest and charged?
MILLER: Larry, I wish I could talk to you about Scooter Libby, but if I have to face him in a court of law, I'd rather not answer that question. I'm ...
KING: Were you surprised that he was indicted?
MILLER: At this point almost nothing would surprise me. I think I've lost the capacity to be surprised after the last 40 days that I've had and the 85 days in jail before that. The world is full of surprises. I'd like to have fewer of them at this point.
KING: Mr. Libby seemed to act as if he never did tell you not -- it seemed that the story was you didn't have to do time, so the question is, why did you do time?
MILLER: Oh, I'd really like to set that record straight.
MILLER: What Mr. Libby signed before I went to jail had been a kind of blanket waiver that was requested by his boss, the president, and by the special prosecutor, that waived the privilege of confidentiality, waived the pledge of confidentiality that all reporters had given to him with whom he had spoken.
I thought that those waivers, and still think that those waivers are coerced. I think when your boss asks you to sign a waiver, that's not a voluntary action on your part. Your a sign of maybe you'd like to work elsewhere? I wanted a personal, written letter from Scooter Libby saying Judy, I want you to testify. And I wanted the right to question him about whether or not that letter was really voluntary. And I would not leave prison until I got both. And that's why I spent 85 days there.
KING: Did you let him know that you wanted that letter?
MILLER: Well, I kind of said it again and again and my lawyer said it. She insists on an explicit, personal waiver. He knew where to find me. I was in jail. The whole world kind of knew that I was in jail. And I figured when he wanted to tell me, I would hear from him.
KING: What are your thoughts about Mr. Fitzgerald and how he's handled this whole thing?
MILLER: You know, people have asked me, Larry, do I hold a grudge against Patrick Fitzgerald. I think he was conducting his investigation with thoroughness. He was just as committed to his position as I was to mine, unfortunately for me. But I think that he did a very fair job. I don't think there was anything personal in what he did. I don't think he wanted to put me in jail, but I think he felt that he kind of had to for the investigation.
I do worry, in general, Larry, about special prosecutors and people who are accountable to no one in our political process. I think that's a bad idea. I had a conversation about special prosecutors with Senator Specter whose committee is considering the shield law, which he too has now pledged to support, some kind of law which I'm very gratified by.
But I think that, you know, I watched the press conference with everybody else, and I think that Mr. Fitzgerald did an excellent job.
KING: How does -- how can a government investigate itself without a special counsel?
MILLER: Well, I think that it can be done. It's done in a lot of instances. You have inspector generals who conduct investigations of their own agencies, and do a good job. But this was obviously a very, very difficult case, because it did involve people high up in the Bush administration.
I know that my paper was one of the newspapers that called for a special prosecutor, because it said the Justice Department would not be able to investigate this thoroughly, and we got one. I paid a price for that.
My own personal opinion, which I could not have told you two days ago when I was working for the "New York Times" is I don't want to see any more special prosecutors. I think the Justice Department, in general, can do these kinds of investigations. And the price we pay for that kind of authority in those kinds of inquiries could be very, very serious in the future if it gets out of hand.
KING: I got a very nice letter from you when you were in jail. What was that like?
MILLER: Well. You mean apart from the wonderful food and the great views and -- it was a very difficult and challenging experience. But I learned a lot from it. It was very isolated. It was very lonely. I was glad to have people like you to write to and people who came to see me. I felt really horribly sad about women with whom I shared a cell block who had been there for weeks and for months, who never had a visitor. I felt that a lot of the women who were there shouldn't have been there, that what they really needed were drug rehabilitation programs and not punishment. I learned a lot about the value of personal control and freedom. I had time for the first time in my life to think about things. It wasn't totally negative.
I try not to whine about it, because a lot of really terrible things happened while I was in jail, like Peter Jennings' death...
KING: Did you do any writing?
MILLER: No. I kept a journal. I tried to keep a journal. But it was very hard to write in jail, Larry, because...
MILLER: ... until the last month, I didn't have a computer. I can barely read my own handwriting. Everything had to be done by hand. The lights, which were on all of the time, were not really conducive to writing. They were these fluorescent lights. The noise was extraordinary, so it was hard to kind of concentrate and have quiet moments. It was a tense and difficult place.
But I have to say this about the Alexandria detention center. It was a very professional place. It was very well-run. The staff took enormous pride in their work. The inmates were for the most part a diverse and interesting group of women, some of whom had made bad mistakes, but they were -- I never felt threatened. It was a fascinating experience for me, and especially some of the counselors who were there, working part-time. These were amazing men and women. They were -- they gave me a lot of personal encouragement. They encouraged other women. And the place would have been a lot poorer and more depressing without them.
KING: One of Judith Miller's expertises is terrorism, and we just saw an example of it yesterday, and another bombing today in Beijing (sic). We'll ask her about that and other things right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FITZGERALD: I think the only way you can do an investigation like this is to hear from all the witnesses. I wish Ms. Miller spent not a second in jail. I wish we didn't have to spend time arguing very, very important issues, and just got down to the brass tacks and made the call of where we were, but I think it had to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Judith Miller, with al Qaeda and all this, and we'll get back to some other things, but is it going to get worse?
MILLER: Well, worse than what? Worse than 2001, Larry? It's continued, but al Qaeda, without a doubt, I think, has been significantly weakened by the international war on terrorism, that has been led by this administration. Some people say they haven't done a good enough job, but al Qaeda is still capable of striking out, as we saw, and as you've pointed out, in Jordan. That was a horrible attacks, simply terrible. And I think that we, as Americans, and as people who care about, throughout the world, about stability and democracy, can't really pretend that the threat is going to go away anytime soon. It's not. And it's morphing. It's changing. It's becoming very different now, as we've seen. We see riots in Paris in the Muslim community, and it's changing. This is a phenomenon that you really can't study enough.
KING: Are you surprised to see the public reaction turning against Iraq as it is?
MILLER: I think that Americans want answers to questions about why we got into Iraq. I think it's very difficult to watch Americans and Iraqis die day in, day out. But, I think that -- I don't really know myself which way the trend line is going because I haven't been able to get there to do the reporting. I hear conflicting things.
I know that this a tremendously difficult period now, for Iraq. But, they have made some significant accomplishments. But the terrorism that continues there is worrisome. The continued ethnic divisions and strifes are worrisome. And I'm sure that's what's being discussed at the White House today, during the visits.
KING: Was it unfair when those of your critics said you were a supporter of the administration? Not just a journalist, but a proponent.
MILLER: No, I don't support the administration. I was reporting on the administration. Just as I reported on the Clinton administration. And when it came to my area, which is weapons of mass destruction, the reports were very similar. Both Republicans and Democrats, as I've said, most of them that I interviewed believed that Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction.
I think the difference, Larry, was between those who felt that those weapons were sufficient reason to go to war, and those who felt that the presence of such weapons, had they been there, was not sufficient cause to go war. And that's where Germany and the United States divided. And Russia and the United States divided. And China and the United States divided.
KING: But you just said reported, this wasn't Judith Miller's opinion?
MILLER: That's right. No, it wasn't Judith Miller's opinion. But, Larry, I have to be honest. I wrote a book in 1990, before the last Gulf War, the first Gulf War, describing the horrors of Saddam Hussein's regime. The horrendous use of chemical weapons against his own people. The horrendous human rights abuses. I was always an opponent of that regime, given my own reporting in Iraq.
But I did not use The New York Times to lobby for war. I did not feel that was my job. I did not feel that was appropriate for me as a reporter. And I tried to keep my personal opposition to that terrible regime out of my reporting. But of course, it can't help but effect your reporting. And was I concerned about what Saddam Hussein might do to the United States? Yes, I was. I definitely was concerned about that.
KING: We'll take a break. I did say, bombing in Beijing. I meant, of course, Baghdad. We'll be back with more with Judith Miller, right after this.
KING: I want to get my facts right here, Judith, so I'm going to look at a note I made. Years ago, Marilyn Berger of the "Washington Post" -- I think you knew her. Do you know Marilyn Berger?
MILLER: Yes, I know her very well. She was one of my heroes.
KING: Yes, she was a legend. She reporter to ...
MILLER: Yes, she was.
KING: She reported to her newspaper that a member of Richard Nixon's inner circle had confided to her -- confided to her -- that he had fabricated a letter to a newspaper purportedly written by Democratic Senator Edmund Muskie that pretty much ended Senator Muskie's run for the presidency. Was she right in confiding to him, and then giving it to her editor?
MILLER: Gosh, I would never question anything that Marilyn Berger did. She was one of the best reporters I knew. She was kind of a role model for me. I don't remember that incident, and I don't know enough about it, but Marilyn has extraordinarily high ethics and if -- whatever she did, I'm sure she had reasons to do it.
KING: Well, the word confidence is -- if I tell you something in confidence, does that mean only you can know about it?
MILLER: It means that if you're going to put it into your newspaper and it's at all controversial, an editor at your newspaper should know the identity of that source, and that is the rule now at the "New York Times."
KING: And would you tell that to them? In other words, if I told you, hey, Judy, I've got something terrific for you. It's confidential. Would you have to tell me I'm going to tell my editor Larry told me.
MILLER: Yes, I would generally inform my sources that if I use the material, editors would have to know. And you know Larry, I think most sources know that at this point, given everything that's happened, reporters have an obligation to tell their editors. I don't think that anyone in Washington in naive about the rules of the game here.
KING: Anthrax -- you wrote about it extensively. Still fear it?
MILLER: Absolutely. Absolutely. Why not? We still don't know who put the anthrax into those envelopes that killed five people in our country and sickened 17, and put 20,000 on antibiotics. That investigation is still unsolved, so am I concerned about an Anthrax attack and biological attacks on the United States? I am. That's why I wrote "Germs," which you were kind enough to talk about on this show, with my colleagues at the "New York Times."
We have to be concerned about WMD threats and terrorist threats to our cities. Look at what's happened in London. The night I went to jail, Larry, the night I was in jail I woke up to the sound of the sirens in London and the dreadful subway bombings, and I thought oh my gosh, the same thing could happen in New York.
It has to flash through your mind if you're a New Yorker or you live in Los Angeles or any major city. We are vulnerable and though a great deal has been done to try and make it safer, I think Katrina, the disaster, the natural disaster showed us how unprepared we remain. I think all Americans should be concerned about that. I certainly am.
I'm -- by the way, I'm very grateful to live in New York, because I think that they have -- that we have in New York one of the best counterterrorism teams in the entire country, and I feel slightly more relaxed now that I know that Mayor Bloomberg is going to be there for another term with Commissioner Kelly, and his two aides, Mike Sheehan and David Cohen, because what they are doing in New York is nothing short of extraordinary to protect the city, and I think New Yorkers are aware of it.
KING: We'll be right back with our remaining moments with Judith Miller, who's father, by the way, was Bill Miller, who ran a great nightclub that Frank Sinatra loved. The famous Bill Miller. What was it called? Bill Miller's in Jersey, right?
MILLER: Bill Miller's Riviera.
KING: Bill Miller's Riviera.
We'll be back.
MILLER: Right across the George Washington Bridge.
KING: Right over the bridge, Fort Lee, New Jersey. We'll be right back with our remaining moments. Don't go away.
KING: A couple of other things, Judith. Are you sorry for Ambassador Wilson and his wife?
MILLER: Oh, I'm very sorry for Joe Wilson. I think he went through a difficult time and once again, beyond that, I don't think I want to comment because once again, I may be a witness at a trial. By the way, I hope I'm not a witness at a trial, Larry. I hope this ordeal is over for me. But if I am, I want to be very careful about not saying anything that could effect my standing as a witness. I hope you understand that.
KING: Sure. Are you expecting a plea bargain?
MILLER: I don't know what to expect. I'm trying not, even to read about it, at this point. I'm trying to think about other things and to move on.
KING: And moving on means what? What are you going to do?
MILLER: Well, the first thing I'm going to do is take the two months that The New York Times had promised me when I came out of jail, and just to relax and chill, as you say in L.A. and I guess we're saying now in New York.
I'm going to do weird things like go to a spa, which I've never done in my life. I'm going to travel overseas a little. I'm going to give some speeches on behalf of the federal shield law. I'm going to talk to journalists about sources.
But basically, I'm going to relax and not make any decisions about what I'm going to do. What I'm not going to do is retire. I'm going to stay in journalism and continue to write and speak now, because I can speak about the issues that I care about.
KING: How about a book?
MILLER: The threats to this county. Maybe. Maybe. I wasn't able to get my agent, Binky Urban today because she's in London and I'm here. And we've been trading calls. I was told by The Wall Street Journal, of all places, that there was significant interest among some publishers in such a book. But I really haven't made any decision at all yet to write one, or not to write one.
I hope I may.
KING: When you say you're not retiring, would you go to work for another newspaper?
MILLER: I really don't know yet. I don't know what I want to do. I do know that I want to be a little freer than I was at The New York Times to speak out and to express a personal opinion. It's great to be able to tell you, I was really glad Mayor Bloomberg was reelected. I couldn't have said that two days ago. It's nice to be able to have personal opinions that I can express.
KING: Want to be a columnist?
MILLER: Oh gosh. Well, I'd like to follow in the large feet of Tom Friedman and Bill Safire. The amazing Bill Safire, whose friendship and guidance and standards. The role he set, I think, has been a model for all columnists. Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post. People I read and admire. I just think they do amazing, provocative work. I might want to try that one day. KING: He stood up for you through this whole thing, Bill Safire.
MILLER: He certainly did. And in all of the years, all of those great columnists at The New York Times, I can never remember that any one of them ever attacked a colleague. And I'm just so grateful for Bill's support and other columnists on the paper. Tom Friedman was very laudatory. And also at other papers, Bob Woodward was very supportive of me in jail. He's defended the importance of the reporter-source relationship. I've had a lot of support within my profession. I'm grateful for it.
KING: We're out of time. Thanks so much for this hour, Judy.
Judith Miller who yesterday left the "New York Times," but has not left journalism.
Tomorrow night, country singer Mindy McCready is with us. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next. Anderson takes over.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com