Congressional Record: October 25, 2005 (Senate)
Page S11813-S11814                      

                  Pentagon Clearance for Judith Miller

  Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, there has been a lot of information around 
this town about a New York Times reporter named Judith Miller. She has 
been central to a case that Mr. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, is 
looking into. There is a lot of anticipation here about what or what 
might not happen with respect to charges that might be filed. It has to 
do with the disclosure of a covert CIA agent and who might have 
disclosed her name and why. Judith Miller was a reporter for the New 
York Times and Judith Miller spent some 80-plus days in jail because 
she decided not to testify about that subject before a grand jury when 
requested by the special prosecutor. She was subsequently released and 
did testify.
  I share the common interest in what has happened, what did the 
special prosecutor find, were there people in Washington, DC, who were 
``outing,'' as it were, a covert agent of the CIA, and if so, did they 
lie about it, did they obstruct justice. I don't know the answer and I 
don't pretend to know the answer to any of that. As one colleague 
suggested on television this weekend, these are not ``technical'' 
issues. There is no such thing as technical perjury. In any event, this 
is very important. But that is now why I am here now.
  The reason I come to the Senate for a moment to mention Judith Miller 
is she wrote something in her own hand that appeared in the New York 
Times in recent days describing her situation. She said something that 
was of interest to me and alerted my curiosity. I have since made a 
number of calls related to that.
  Judith Miller was embedded in a military unit and she said the 
following in her piece:

       The Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret 
     information as a part of my assignment ``embedded'' with a 
     special military unit hunting for unconventional weapons [or 
     weapons of mass destruction.]

  We all understand in the Senate what it means to see secret or top 
secret material. We frequently are provided briefings by the CIA, by 
the Defense Department, by other intelligence units, briefings that are 
classified as either ``secret,'' or ``top secret.'' We understand what 
that means. We understand, for example, if a member of our staff is to 
be made available to have those clearances, clearances come only when 
there is a background check and people are evaluated for receiving a 
clearance to possess secret or top secret information.
  So I had a question when I read this article from a New York Times 
reporter embedded with a military unit:

       The Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret 
     information . . .

  My question is, What kind of clearance would that be, that a 
reporter, traveling with a military unit in Iraq, searching for weapons 
of mass destruction, what kind of clearance would that reporter have to 
see classified or secret information?
  I called the Pentagon to find out what kind of clearance would exist, 
perhaps not just with respect to this reporter. My interest would be on 
a broader basis. We had many reporters embedded with military units in 
Iraq during the invasion and during the subsequent activities, looking 
for weapons of mass destruction.
  Based on what I can learn from the Pentagon--although it was not all 
that clear from the response I received--based on what I could learn 
from the Pentagon, it seems there was no ``secret'' or ``top secret'' 
clearance given this reporter.
  Now, last evening I talked to a soldier in Germany, a man who was a 
part of the unit in which this reporter was embedded. He was very 
willing and interested in talking about the entire experience. The 
fellow from Germany, who is a sergeant in that special unit Judith 
Miller was embedded in, spoke at some length about what happened there. 
I told him of the quote Judith Miller had in the New York Times. He 
said he would have understood that she would have likely seen secret or 
even top secret information. The way the reporter is embedded in that 
circumstance, they have access to a substantial amount of information, 
could not help but have access. So the question I asked the Pentagon 
is, on what basis would a reporter have access to these clearances to 
receive secret or top secret information?
  Further, it is my understanding, at least from the sergeant whom I 
spoke with in Germany last evening, all that was transmitted from this 
reporter, embedded with a military unit, was approved by the colonel 
involved in that military unit and material was not to be published 
without the colonel's approval. Well, of course, that is the censoring 
of the material. It is also the case as reported not only by the 
sergeant in the conversation I had last evening but also in previous 
publications, that this reporter, Judith Miller, described often her 
acquaintance with Donald Rumsfeld and Mr. Feith and others in the 
Pentagon at high levels, including generals. And she expressed freely 
her either agreement or disagreement with the military activities of 
the unit she was in, and talked about complaining back to Rumsfeld, and 
so on and so forth.
  I don't know the voracity of all of that. All I am reporting is what 
I was told by someone in that unit. That is, perhaps, for another 
discussion. I intend to visit about this a bit more fully tomorrow.

  The first question I have is not just with respect to Judith Miller, 
but generally under what conditions were reporters approved to be 
embedded with military units and given opportunity to see secret or top 
secret material? Did they have security clearances or not? The Pentagon 
says not. This reporter said she did. If they had clearances, what 
kinds of clearances were they? The Pentagon said they have 
nondisclosure forms. How can you give a nondisclosure form to a 
reporter and then show them secret or top secret material? Take a look 
at the law, which I will read tomorrow in the Senate. That is not what 
is allowed.
  The classification of material that is secret or top secret dealing 
with intelligence or military operations is not a classification that 
is done lightly. It is not a classification that can be overcome by 
someone in the Pentagon who says, Okay, put on a military shirt or a 
pair of military trousers and go embed yourself with that unit, and, by 
the way, you sign a form that says ``nondisclosure.'' That is not the 
way we decide how to disperse information that is considered secret or 
top secret.
  Those who are in our Senate community, on our staffs and so on, those 
who are permitted to see classified secret and top secret material, 
must have a clearance. That clearance must come after an investigation 
to determine whether that person is qualified to have classified 
information. I am asking the Pentagon, did they provide a clearance? 
The short answer says no, they did not. The writer says they did. The 
Pentagon says a ``nondisclosure form.'' What on Earth is that? How many 
nondisclosure forms exist when they are embedding men and women in the 
news media with military units engaged in activities that often are 
secret and top secret?
  I will be asking the inspector general at the Pentagon to take a look 
at this to evaluate for the Congress. All Members should understand 
this. What are the circumstances by which a reporter describes her 
access to see secret information because she had a ``clearance'' from 
the Pentagon when the Pentagon said she did not have a clearance? We 
understand what secret clearances are around here. All of us understand 
that. We deal with that classification every day. What are the 
circumstances by which a reporter is allowed to see secret or top 
secret information because they have a clearance, when the Pentagon 
says no such clearance exists?
  If, in fact, it is not a clearance and the reporter has simply 
misspoken, if it is instead a nondisclosure form, then I would like to 
see the provision in law by which the Pentagon has decided to provide 
nondisclosure releases to journalists who join military units whose 
units then censor the material that comes from the journalist. And is 

[[Page S11814]]

in any way any implied quid pro quo, saying: Give me a clearance, embed 
me, let me see secret material; and by the way, I won't report on the 
things that are secret and you can review all things I write and take 
out the things you do not like?
  I do not know the circumstance. What I have read in recent days 
raised questions for me beyond what has been raised in recent days 
which is the issue of the special prosecutor and his potential action 
before the grand jury expires. I don't know about all of that. I am as 
interested as others about what may or may not happen.
  I am a member of the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations. We spend 
a fair amount of time evaluating weapons programs and other issues that 
are secret and top secret. But I don't understand this, a self-
description by a New York Times reporter about her clearance to see 
secret information as part of being embedded with the military unit.
  Mr. President, I will have more to say about this tomorrow. In the 
meantime, I intend to try to find additional answers. They have not 
been forthcoming in the last couple of days. But I think all of the 
Congress, all of the Senate, should be asking these questions as well.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.