More on Judy Miller's special embed agreement, from Frank Foer's piece in New York magazine from the summer of 2004 ...
According to Pomeroy, as well as an editor at the Times, Miller had helped negotiate her own embedding agreement with the Pentagonâan agreement so sensitive that, according to one Times editor, Rumsfeld himself signed off on it. Although she never fully acknowledged the specific terms of that arrangement in her articles, they were as stringent as any conditions imposed on any reporter in Iraq. âAny articles going out had to be, well, censored,â Pomeroy told me. âThe mission contained some highly classified elements and people, what we dubbed the âSecret Squirrels,â and their âsources and methodsâ had to be protected and a war was about to start.â Before she filed her copy, it would be censored by a colonel who often read the article in his sleeping bag, clutching a small flashlight between his teeth. (When reporters attended tactical meetings with battlefield commanders, they faced similar restrictions.)
As Miller covered MET Alpha, it became increasingly clear that she had ceased to respect the boundaries between being an observer and a participant. And as an embedded reporter she went even further, several sources say. While traveling with MET Alpha, according to Pomeroy and one other witness, she wore a military uniform.
When Colonel Richard McPhee ordered MET Alpha to pull back from a search mission and regroup in the town of Talil, Miller disagreed vehemently with the decisionâand let her opinions be loudly known. The Washington Postâs Howard Kurtz reprinted a note in which she told public-affairs officers that she would write negatively about his decision if McPhee didnât back down. Whatâs more, Kurtz reported that Miller complained to her friend Major General David Petraeus. Even though McPheeâs unit fell outside the generalâs line of command, Petraeusâs rank gave his recommendation serious heft. According to Kurtz, in an account that was later denied, âMcPhee rescinded his withdrawal order after Petraeus advised him to do so.â
Miller guarded her exclusive access with ferocity. When the Washington Postâs Barton Gellman overlapped in the unit for a day, Miller instructed its members that they couldnât talk with him. According to Pomeroy, âShe told people that she had clearance to be there and Bart didnât.â (One other witness confirms this account.)