Judy Miller retires, but she's still got more to say

The Times will publish a farewell column on Thursday.

Published November 9, 2005 9:24PM (EST)

It may be years before Scooter Libby goes to trial, but one chapter in the Valerie Plame case has just come to a close: New York Times reporter Judy Miller has retired.

Executive Editor Bill Keller made the announcement today in a memo to the newsroom obtained by Editor & Publisher. "In her 28 years at The Times, Judy participated in some great, prize-winning journalism," Keller wrote. "She displayed fierce determination and personal courage both in pursuit of the news and in resisting assaults on the freedom of news organizations to report. "

As part of the discussions leading to her retirement, Miller asked Keller to clarify comments he made about her in a memo to the Times staff last month. Keller agreed to do so, appending the following letter to his message to the newsroom today:

"I know you've been distressed by the memo I sent to the staff about things I wish I'd done differently in the course of this ordeal. Let me be clear on two points you've raised.

"First, you are upset with me that I used the words 'entanglement'' and 'engagement' in reference to your relationship with Scooter Libby. Those words were not intended to suggest an improper relationship. I was referring only to the series of interviews through which you -- and the paper -- became caught up in an epic legal controversy.

"Second, you dispute my assertion that 'Judy seems to have misled' Phil Taubman when he asked whether you were one of the reporters to whom the White House reached out with the Wilson story. I continue to be troubled by that episode. But you are right that Phil himself does not contend that you misled him; and, of course, I was not a participant in the conversation between you and Phil."

Keller said that he wishes Miller well in the "next phase of her career." That next phase, whatever it is, won't start until after the Times runs a farewell column from Miller on Thursday -- a last word she apparently insisted on having.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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