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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | Miller 'sorry' for WMD inaccuracies

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | Miller 'sorry' for WMD inaccuracies Miller 'sorry' for WMD inaccuracies
Judith Miller, the US journalist at the heart of the CIA leak probe, has apologised to her readers because her stories about WMD and Iraq turned out to be wrong.

The US journalist, who spent 85 days in prison over the summer before agreeing to give evidence to a grand jury investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, made the apology during an exclusive interview for BBC Newsnight.

She said: "I am obviously deeply chagrined that I ever write anything that turns out to be incorrect. I'm deeply sorry that the stories were wrong."

Ms Miller also confirmed that former senior White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby was one of her sources who revealed that Ms Plame was employed by the CIA.

It's a deeply troubling failure, because if we didn't know about Iraq, what do we really know about Iran, North Korea or Syria?
Judith Miller
She claims Mr Libby did not out Ms Plame as a covert agent, but as someone who worked for the CIA. Ms Miller said she assumed that Ms Plame was an analyst, not an operative.

Mr Libby denies any wrongdoing.

Sources

When pressed to confirm or deny that President George W Bush's senior adviser Karl Rove was another source, she declined to do so, saying: "I can't talk about the specifics of this case as I might be a witness in a criminal trial."

Although Ms Miller apologised for the intelligence being incorrect she defended her journalism saying she was right to publish and had done everything she could to verify the facts. She said: "I'm deeply sorry our intelligence community got it wrong.

"I am deeply sorry that the President was given a national intelligence estimate which concluded that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and a active weapons programme."

Wider implications

She defended printing the stories, claiming she had checked claims about Iraq and WMD with independent experts and had included caveats within her stories about the sources for her information.

The journalist also voiced concerns about the implications of the failure of intelligence for the wider, so-called "War on Terror".

"I think it's a terrible failure, it's a shocking failure, it's a deeply troubling failure, because if we didn't know about Iraq, what do we really know about the programmes of Iran or North Korea or Syria or what al-Qaeda is up to?"

The full interview with Judith Miller will be broadcast by Newsnight on BBC Two at 2230 GMT on Wednesday, 30 November, 2005.

You can also watch the programme via Newsnight's website.

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