tv Open Phones with Judith Miller CSPAN January 31, 2016 6:15am-6:31am EST
story of the reporter's journey. ms. miller joins us here in miami. judith miller, this is a complicated story. in your book you lay out in a sense an outline in the first couple of pages to let everybody knows, here is where it begins and here is where it ends and you explain the in between. how long have you been covering the middle east?
>> guest: since 1971 when i was a student i went to jerusalem and fell in love with the middle east and decided to learn more about it, went to egypt, jordan, et cetera, et cetera, and it was instant, it was out of my childhood bible study class. there was it -- there it was. each person gives a little and we divide jerusalem and no problem here. but i kept going back and learning how complicated it was and now i have fewer solutions and only more questions. >> host: what was your life like in 2002? >> guest: 20 -- 2002.
>> host: you were flying high, weren't you? >> guest: i lived downtown. i had seen friends pushed out of the homes. we had all in new york lost people and friends and i kept saying and asking myself if only we had done our series sooner and written about al-qaeda and threats sooner, i was filled with remorse about everything we hadn't done cosharing with the fantastic team. but it was so -- it was such a frantic period. i didn't have time to think or really to grieve or to mourn. we were just busy trying to figure out who did this, why did they do it, who was to blame, how do we fix what we went wrong. that's what i was doing in 2002.
>> host: all right, let's move it forward. what did you write, what happened, where scooter libya involved in this and why did you go to jail? >> guest: i went to jail to protect a source for a story i never wrote about a conversation, it turned out, we hadn't had. the reason i wrote this book is i that i really think i didn't get wrong, the intelligence was wrong. that wasn't a cop-out. i was also praised for doing something that had turned out was not so good, which was to give testimony that turned out to be wrong and peter, if i have a regret and the reason i wrote
this story is because i wrote a story to say, journalism is complicated, we are always going to get things wrong but the real sin in our profession is not going back to look at what you did wrong and get -- try and get it right, and why -- i went to jail because not because i'm courageous, i'm not. no one would talk to a journalist if we did not earn our pledges to protect the people who cooperate and inform the american people, tell them thing it is government doesn't want them to know. that wasn't courageous. i had to go back and correct it and look at the whole process of journalism, what happened to us, what happened to wmd, adventures, along the way and it
was the most difficult book i had ever written. i hope it's a fun book but in parts but i'm not used to writing, i, we, me. i'm more comfortable writing about you and other people, this was tough. >> host: today sitting here in 2015 in your personal view was the invasion of iraq a good thing? >> guest: i don't know. it turned out to be a disaster but the decision to invade, i think, is more complicated and that's what i try and look at. let's look back. after 9/11 if you were president of the united states republican or democrat and you had been told by your intelligence agencies with high confidence all 16 of them that they believed wmd was still being hidden away from saddam,
violated 17 resolutions, killed the kurds and conducted terrorism against westerners, invaded the neighbor, would you take the chance that that material would be passed to enemies of the united states. i don't fault george bush for the decision he made, i fault george bush in the way he conduct it had war because -- and then i congratulate him for the equally tough and surprising decision he made to do the surge when all of the advisers were opposed to it. he thought it was the right thing to do. it turned out to stabilize the country. we can argue about the rest. >> host: judith miller is our guest. we all heard the story. we are going to start with a call from marjorie in west virginia, go ahead. >> caller: , hi, thank you so much for taking my call. one of the things, ms., miller
and i watched you be interviewed a few times on c-span, you don't seem to think that you were manipulated by dick cheney and many do believe that you were manipulated, and the reason i believe you were manipulated was the timing of the article and how it seemed to be well coordinated with dick cheney and others appearing on the sunday morning news talk shows at the same time, so my question is this, when you have an opportunity to do a future story about our going to war, have you thought about what you would do in order to avoid the kind of controversy you found yourself in because i do believe you had so much credibility that your seeming to get manipulated really honestly hurt me --
>> guest: , well, it's a really good question, let me just tell you that i have not met george bush to his day and i did not meet dick cheney until after he left office, years office he -- years after he left office. the people did not give me the information. michael gordon and i wrote the controversial story about aluminum tubes. we had to pull it out of people. we had to stitch the story together and confront the administration with what we knew and only after we did that, did they agree to talk about a top-secret program that the administration didn't want to talk about to us about. i think from their standpoint, once they realized we have the story they were going to spin it and make the best of it but what i wanted to do in this book is to tell how people how the story came about so to understand more about my business and how we do
it, are you going to be used and what you write is going to be used, yes, and i'm sorry if it raised questions in a lot of people's minds about my intentions but my intentions were simply to -- and michael gordon's, by the way, most of the stories were written with other people at the time. and, but, yes, did they spin it once we wrote the story, yes, dye that i had. thank you for asking the question. >> host: this is a text message from area code 205, was cheney dishonest about weapons of mass destruction, yes or no? >> guest: i don't think you can put it in yes or no question. the information he was getting was just really terrifying, you
know, before also his health problems and his heart attacks and i think -- he writes about this in his own book and we talked about it afterwards. 9/11 was a really shock to the system. he was determined to go to war. so did he spin the information in the hardest way possible, yes, he did. was he lying, i think that's a question he has to answer. i only know that i didn't get the information from him. i got it from the men and women who had never lied to me. they were the analysts who were actually doing the assessments and they more than any people feel a sense of saddens and tragedy about what happened. >> host: and here is the book. bill in north port, florida, you
are on the air with judith miller. >> caller: yes, for taking my call. a couple of questions. during the 1980's war when iraq, didn't suddam hussein used chemical weapons to kill thousands of them and to go back a few years than that, didn't iraeli force took out a nuclear development site right out of baghdad and did anyone ever check syria for -- >> caller: yes. >> caller: take them over the border into syria and didn't assad use them recently? is this all possible and if you're the president of the united states -- >> host: that's a lot. >> guest: that's a lot of questions. absolutely the israelis bombed
the iraqi nuclear facility and destroyed it and in so doing they destroyed the nuclear program, really, which was never able to get up and running again, though saddam tried. and yes, the reason i felt so strongly about wmd in iraq i had studied. i had stood on the sight of mass grave and watch bodies children and women frozen after attack. that's at least what we thought it was. i knew he was willing to use this material and wouldn't hesitate to use it against us if he had the opportunity. so there was every reason for a president to believe that he had wmd and was willing to use it. as for syria, charles delford, wrote an extraordinarily report,
definitive report about what happened to the md, the reports on syria that chemical and biological weapons had been shipped to syria, he leaves that as an open question. he was never actually able to verify one way or another, this i will say, readers of the new york times learned in september 2014 that iraqis and american soldiers were being sickened by weapons that they -- chemical weapons that they were still encountering from the age-old program that saddam had either forgotten about or didn't know where they were hidden or continued lying about. if this wmd story is very complicated and i'm sure ten years in now we are still going to be asking questions about it. surely i am. >> host: chris from silver springs, maryland sends in text. do former iraqi and syrian officers combining with soonie elements come price the isis
leadership today? >> guest: absolutely true. jobi that you just had on the show, isis is the son of al-qaeda and it is lethal specially lethal because it has saddam's operatives, generals, security people advising them, organizing them, running their finance. this is an extraordinarily serious group, a group that does not hesitate to crucify people and they boast about it as a recruiting vehicle. i don't know about true evil, but i know that they are it and that has to be stopped. and stopping them from getting their hands on chemical and biological weapons and weapons