Friday, July 08, 2005

A Puzzler

UPDATED AGAIN: I just read this, an eye-opening analysis of the situation by a close friend of Karl Rove's. It is interesting indeed. Further, I read this. This blogger does not paint Ms. Miller in a pretty fashion, and has the salient opinion that the solution lies with the Media re-writing its rules on ethics. I tend to agree ... Questions ... questions ... With a journalist in jail, it has raised some interesting questions for me. Let me quickly synopsize the events that have lead to where we are: 1. Bush makes a state of the union speech saying that "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." 2. Several months later, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson returns from a fact-finding trip in Africa, and says this statement is highly unlikely. George Tenet admits fault, and says that should have been left out of the speech. 3. Journalist Robert Novak writes that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA operative and suggested sending him to Africa. Novak cites "two senior administration officials" for the report. NOTE: It is against the law for anyone to knowingly reveal the identity of a CIA Operative. 4. The CIA asks for the Justice Department to investigate. They do. Bush welcomes the investigation, and wants to know if his department has a leak. Bush, Cheney, Powell, and many others are questioned. 5. The two reporters, Cooper and Miller, are both defiant and won't reveal their sources. Time Magazine turns over all the notes they have, asking the court to spare the reporters from jail time. 6. Karl Rove's lawyer admits that Rove talked to Cooper before Plame's name became public, but did not disclose any confidential information. 7. A federal judge jails Miller for contempt of court. Cooper, however, is apparently revealing who his source is. Now, before I state my position, let me say this: a) It was grossly irresponsible for the reporter to report such information. It does NOT discredit Wilson's statements that his wife worked for the CIA. (It only meant that he got inside information that tipped him off that Bush was lying.) b) It was also grossly irresponsible for the leak's source to leak. It was illegal and should not have been done. It endangered Plame's life, and dismantled whatever intelligence operation she may have been working on. But ... I'm left with a puzzle. Should it be right for the judge to jail a reporter for not revealing her sources? While in this case the source divulged something that was illegal to divulge, I still say no. As much as I would like to see the source of the leak jailed (especially if it's Karl Rove), I think it is a bad precedence to put a reporter in Jail for not revealing a source--even if that source broke the law by revealing it to the reporter. Do I think the reporter should have gobbled up the scoop and reported it? Hell no. I think both Cooper and Miller were greedy assholes for doing it. The freedom of the press is a flawed freedom because of people like Cooper and Miller. The first amendment of the Constitution says this: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of ... the press." That is specific and clear, to me. To jail a reporter in this case is quite wrong, even though the law she's being jailed on is "Contempt of Court," it establishes a precedent, and indirectly, a law, that reporters will always have to reveal their sources. I do not think this is a conspiracy of Bush Administration--quite to the contrary. They would probably have some interest in protecting this particular reporter's rights in this case. So ... I say ... let the bitch go.


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