Judy's Freeeeeee!!!!!

Okay. After 85 days, Judith Miller is now a free woman, released from custody yesterday after agreeing to testify before a grand jury after getting what she said was an unequivocal waiver from her source, who's been identified as Dick Cheney's chief of staff "Scooter" Libby.

I guess the journalism world's official response is pretty much encompassed in this statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Unofficially, the number of questions that remained unanswered about l'affaire Miller are probably best summed up in this piece by Editor& Publisher.

Personally, I find the episode too confusing to make much sense of. It was interesting to see clips today of Miller walking arm-in-arm with New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. I guess after the recent announcement of 500 impending job cuts at the Times Co., Sulzberger thought his image could be burnished by hanging around with his recently imprisoned employee.

After this anti-climactic ending --in which Miller stuck to her principles, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stuck to his guns, and Libby stuck to his earlier waiver freeing reporters from protecting his identity -- the big question is...why did this all take so long?

If First Amendment and journalistic advocates were hoping Miller's dramatic incarceration would create enough public momentum for something like a federal shield law, they may be sorely disappointed. This thing has ended with a fizzle rather than a bang -- and I doubt there'll be much watercooler conversation in the days to come about the crying need to protect journalists who protect their sources.
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