Daily Archives: August 16, 2005

The New York Times, as part of its ongoing campaign to repair the public image of “journalist” Judith Miller, and indicted co-consirators in our famously “free press” has seen fit to engage the services of one Bob Dole, “the Republican candidate for president in 1996, was a senator from 1969 to 1996,” for an op-ed hand-job equipped with the breathtakingly specious title The Underprivileged Press.

Like many Americans, I am perplexed by the federal investigation into the alleged leak of classified information that exposed Valerie Plame Wilson, the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, as a Central Intelligence Agency officer.

I’m perplexed by Plame-o-rama too Bob. But not in the way you are. And there’s nothing “alleged” about it.

So far the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has achieved one notable result: putting a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, in jail for refusing to break her promise of confidentiality to her sources in response to a grand jury subpoena. The incarceration of Ms. Miller is all the more baffling because she has never written a word about the C.I.A. flap.

And here we get to the central lie, the New York Times and the rest of the “mainstream press” is ceaselessly promulgating. As Judy Miller has “never written a word about the C.I.A. flap” there is no “source” for her to “break” that most sacred of all political spins, “her promise of confidentiality.” In investigating the revelation of Valerie Plame’s identity, Patrick Fitzgerald (a Total Babe, by the way) has a considerable number of questions to ask Judy Miller, “Was it Scooter in the Library with the lead pipe?” being in all likelihood the least of them.

If state rather than federal authorities were conducting this investigation, Ms. Miller most likely would not be in jail.

Well as Warren Beatty famously said in McCabe and Mrs. Miller (no not Judy ) “If a frog had wings it wouldn’t bump its ass on the ground so much.”

Today 49 states and the District of Columbia recognize a “reporter’s privilege,” either by statute or through state judicial decisions, which allows journalists to report information and protect confidential sources without fear of imprisonment.

A bad law that should be struck down ASAP. Desiring its applicability in this case is, happily, futile.

Unfortunately, at the federal level the legal landscape is much less clear. In 1972, the Supreme Court held that reporters do not have an absolute privilege to protect their sources from prosecutors. And various federal appeals courts have developed inconsistent standards on how and when such a privilege may apply.

In other words, relative sanity rules.

Congress can help rectify this situation by passing a bill introduced by Senator Richard G. Lugar and Representative Mike Pence, both Indiana Republicans, that sets clear standards the federal government must meet before it issues a subpoena to a reporter in a criminal or civil case. For example, in a criminal investigation, a reporter would be required to turn over confidential information only if a court determined that there are reasonable grounds to believe a crime has been committed, that the requested information is essential to the investigation and that it could not be obtained from nonmedia sources.

My how clever. In order for an investigation to proceed there must be another investigation. Such a lovely way to evade the law — through the law.

This is hardly a free pass for journalists; importantly, the bill specifically authorizes the forced disclosure of a source’s identity if doing so is necessary to prevent imminent and actual harm to national security.

And that’s precisely what we’ve got in this case Bob.

And yes Lugar-Pence would be a free pass for the “journalists” the government so loves to use as its stenographers.

As someone with a long record of government service, I must admit that I did not always appreciate the inquisitive nature of the press.

Pushing Viagra wins one so much more respect, doesn’t it Bob?

But I do understand that the purpose of a reporter’s privilege is not to somehow elevate journalists above other segments of society. Instead, it is designed to help guarantee that the public continues to be well informed.

Uh, no Bob. It’s precisely in order to elevate journalists above “other segments of society.” It puts them on par with Catholic priests — the propensity of priests to rape altar boys being the only real difference between them. Can’t quite imagine Judy with an altar boy. But then it’s 7:15 in the morning and I haven’t had breakfast yet.

Of course, some critics will contend that protecting the news media along the lines of the Lugar-Pence bill would make it harder to prosecute crimes because of the potential loss of relevant evidence.

No shit, Sherlock!

But this argument ignores the dozens of whistle-blowers who would not share information about government wrongdoing with the press unless they felt reporters could protect their identities. This is why the attorneys general of 34 states filed an amicus brief in May asking the Supreme Court to recognize a federal reporter’s privilege.

“Dozens” of “whistle-blowers”? Rather low-balling it, aren’t you Bob. That’s because the “whitsle-blowers” the propagandists love to bleat about have about as much corporeal validity as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. As I have pointed out in the past THERE IS NO FRIGHTENED LITTLE MAN!

I am also greatly concerned about Judith Miller’s situation because she has been incarcerated as a result of an investigation into possible violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, of which I was a sponsor. The law was intended to protect covert intelligence operatives whose lives would be endangered if their identities were publicly disclosed. We were particularly concerned about people like the notorious Philip Agee, a former C.I.A. officer who systematically exposed the agency’s covert operatives.

Thus the act was drafted in very narrow terms: our goal was to criminalize only those disclosures that clearly represented a conscious and pernicious effort to identify and expose agents with the intent to impair America’s foreign intelligence activities. Not surprisingly, there has been only one prosecution under the act since it was passed.

Don’t you just love the “conscious and pernicious”? Let’s see if Bob can raise the bar even more, folks!

With the facts known publicly today regarding the Plame case, it is difficult to see how a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act could have occurred.

Aha! Well if the facts aren’t “known publicly” there’s no need to prosecute. However Patrick Fitzgerald’s efforts are entirely devoted to getting those facts known publically. But we can’t have that, can we Bob?

For example, one of the requirements is that the federal government must be taking “affirmative measures” to conceal the agent’s intelligence relationship with the United States. Yet we now know that Ms. Wilson held a desk job at C.I.A. headquarters and could be seen traveling to and from work.

That’s what we “now know,” Bob. We didn’t know this before. No one knew this before. As you know quite well.

The journalist Robert D. Novak, whose July 14, 2003, column mentioned Ms. Wilson, using her maiden name, and set off the investigation, has written that C.I.A. officials confirmed to him over the telephone that she was an employee before he wrote his column.

Really? Is that what he told you? Novakula has told any number of different people any number of different stories about what he was told and under what circumstances. Go Google Novakula and the Plame case, Bob — it’s quite entertaining.

I, of course, do not know what evidence Mr. Fitzgerald has presented to the grand jury, nor will I hazard a guess as to the final outcome of his investigation.

“which of course won’t stop me from dissing him anyway.”

But the imprisonment of Judith Miller will be even more troubling if it turns out that no violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act has occurred.

Then why doesn’t she explain that to Fitzgerald? She’d be of that world-famous foam mattress in a trice.

As she sits in jail, Congress can honor her commitment to principle and her courage, and that of all reporters who have helped expose wrongdoing by protecting their sources, by passing the Lugar-Pence bill and creating a federal privilege for reporters.

Listen to that background music swell, folks.

What, no background music? Well Elmer Bernstein’s gone (alas) but there’s always Marc Shaiman. I’m sure he can cocktail up something suitably “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

After all the sky’s the limit when you’re on the Dole.

Trackback Ping(s)
Excerpt: David Ehrenstein, who is the closest thing I personally kinda
know to a real media guy™, speaks out against reporter privilege in
the Fablog. Pretty interesting.
Weblog: Pererro
Tracked: August 17, 2005