Okay, this squares what I've heard from various sources over the last 24 hours.
Jim Miklaszewski on the NBC Nightly News blog says no one at the Pentagon, the DIA or the CIA knows anything about Judy Miller ever having a security clearance, as she appeared to claim in her tell-not-very-much piece in the Times.
As one Pentagon reporter pointed out to me, embedded reporters will frequently get tactical information that's classified -- troop locations, battle plans, etc. But that's information with a very short shelf-life. And knowledgeable sources doubt that anyone with Miller's background would confuse that sort of access with the much more specific meaning of getting a security clearance.
That leaves two possibilities. What I'd have to call the less interesting of the two is that Miller was either speaking imprecisely or self-aggrandizingly and she really had no more access than any other embedded reporter in the field who, in the nature of things, listens in on plans of action, locations, etc.
The second possibility is that Miller was given some special status or special clearance that was, shall we say, off-the-books, a special status few at the Pentagon or the CIA seem to know about or are willing now to admit knowing about.
But look at the passage in Miller's piece in question ...
In my grand jury testimony, Mr. Fitzgerald repeatedly turned to the subject of how Mr. Libby handled classified information with me. He asked, for example, whether I had discussed my security status with Mr. Libby. During the Iraq war, the Pentagon had given me clearance to see secret information as part of my assignment "embedded" with a special military unit hunting for unconventional weapons.
Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I had discussed classified information with Mr. Libby. I said I believed so, but could not be sure. He asked how Mr. Libby treated classified information. I said, Very carefully.
Mr. Fitzgerald asked me to examine a series of documents. Though I could not identify them with certainty, I said that some seemed familiar, and that they might be excerpts from the National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq's weapons. Mr. Fitzgerald asked whether Mr. Libby had shown any of the documents to me. I said no, I didn't think so. I thought I remembered him at one point reading from a piece of paper he pulled from his pocket.
I told Mr. Fitzgerald that Mr. Libby might have thought I still had security clearance, given my special embedded status in Iraq. At the same time, I told the grand jury I thought that at our July 8 meeting I might have expressed frustration to Mr. Libby that I was not permitted to discuss with editors some of the more sensitive information about Iraq.
Mr. Fitzgerald asked me if I knew whether I was cleared to discuss classified information at the time of my meetings with Mr. Libby. I said I did not know.
Needless to say, everything here comes through Miller's (perhaps distorted) account of what happened in the grand jury room. But in her account, at least, Fitzgerald seems to have been aware of some special status she enjoyed and made it a point of repeated questioning.
Meanwhile, Rawstory.com reports, as you'd expect, that Miller's attorney Bob Bennett worked closely with her on writing the piece. And it's hard for me to see where an attorney as shrewd and alert as Bennett would have allowed Miller to just whip something like this up out of thin air. After all, she's in enough trouble already.
Perhaps this was just puffery on her part. But something seems to be at the heart of this.