Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Judith Miller and Interrogation Center Activity

Ms. Miller has an interesting propensity to attend interrogations in Middle-East hotspots.

Former New York Times journalist Judith Miller told a federal court jury Monday how she secretly witnessed the 1993 interrogation by Israeli agents of a Palestinian-American grocer charged with providing money and recruits to a terrorist group.

Miller, who was Cairo bureau chief of The New York Times at the time, said Muhammad Salah's lawyer told her that he had been tortured by Israeli agents at the interrogation center but she saw no evidence of that.

"He was boasting, he was jaunty, there was no reason to believe that he had been subjected to that kind of treatment," Miller testified.

Salah, 53, and former university professor Abdelhaleem Ashqar, 48, are charged in a federal racketeering indictment with providing money and fresh recruits to the Islamic militant group Hamas in its campaign to topple the Israeli government.

The two men say they merely were trying to help impoverished Palestinians suffering under the Israeli army's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They deny that they are Hamas members or support any form of terrorism.

Salah was arrested in Israel in January 1993 and served four and a half years in Israeli prisons before his release and return to Chicago.

He claims that he was deprived of sleep, hooded and forced to sit in a tiny chair with his hands cuffed behind his back before he made a series of statements to agents of the Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency.

Shin Bet interrogators using aliases and testifying before a courtroom cleared of spectators have said that Salah's statements were made voluntarily. ...

She testified that she flew to Israel in 1993 after reading about Salah's arrest and contacted aides to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, whom she described as a longtime friend.

Through Rabin and Shin Bet chief Yakov Perry, she was invited to visit the interrogation center in Ramallah provided that she would not reveal in any article she wrote that she had been there and seen Salah questioned. ...

Miller said she was taken to the interrogation center because the Israelis wanted her to write about Salah. He allegedly had already confessed that money to finance Hamas was coming out of the United States and Israeli officials wanted to draw U.S. attention to that. ...

Defense attorneys repeatedly tried to portray her as biased in favor of Israel. "Have you ever been used as a Mossad asset?" asked Salah attorney Michael Deutsch, referring to the Israeli intelligence service.

"No," Miller said. She left the courthouse in the company of a lawyer, refusing to stop to answer questions from reporters.

This is the same Judith Miller who testified to the "Plamegate" grand jury that she held a U.S. government security clearance, and who participated in U.S. military interrogation activities in Iraq.

I don't think that Salah's attorney asked the right question.

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