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Miller bids adieu to the 'Times'

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New York Times reporter Judith Miller left the paper Wednesday amid concerns about her reporting on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and lingering questions about why she spent 85 days in jail protecting a source, only to come out and identify him.

Her retirement, as the Times characterized it in a statement, followed more than two weeks of negotiations between attorneys for Miller and the Times. The talks resulted in a severance deal that was not disclosed.

In a letter to be published in the Times today, Miller, 57, says she's leaving "because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a Times reporter never wants to be."

Miller, a Pulitzer Prize winner who had worked at the paper for 28 years, made headlines by going to jail to protect her source. She later testified before a grand jury that the source was Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's then-chief of staff. She said she agreed to testify after Libby assured her it was OK.

Libby was charged Oct. 28 with obstructing justice, perjury and lying in the two-year investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity after her diplomat husband Joseph Wilson criticized the conflict in Iraq.

The Times needs to fully examine Miller's reporting and management's role in it during the months before the war, says Harvard media analyst Alex Jones -- "some kind of accounting if the Times is going to be the standard-bearer for American journalism and viewed as living up to its own standards."

Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism says the Times also needs to tackle institutional problems that have lingered from the Jayson Blair reporting scandal. "A lot of (Times) people are entangled in this story."

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