Skip to comments.Journalists Face Jail Time
Posted on 08/11/2004 5:42:15 AM PDT by OESY
Admittedly, the Valerie Plame affair is not the typical case involving a reporter's right to protect a source. Such cases are often about constraining the government from identifying and punishing a whistle-blower; this one involves an allegation of an illegal leak by a Bush administration official to punish a whistle-blower.
But no one should be fooled by the unusual circumstances here - the underlying principle remains democracy's need for a free press and the free press's need to operate with a minimum of government interference, and to protect confidential sources. Those principles are endangered by a federal judge's order this week holding a Time magazine reporter in contempt for refusing to reveal a source. The order should be reversed on appeal.
The reporter, Matthew Cooper, was subpoenaed as part of a criminal investigation into who leaked information to the columnist Robert Novak, telling him that Ms. Plame was an undercover C.I.A. officer. Ms. Plame, whose cover was blown by Mr. Novak in a column, is the wife of Joseph Wilson IV, the former diplomat who incurred the wrath of the Bush administration by contending in a New York Times Op-Ed essay that President Bush had relied on discredited intelligence when he claimed that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa.
Judge Thomas Hogan of Federal District Court in Washington has ordered that Mr. Cooper be jailed and that Time magazine pay a fine of $1,000 per day, although both penalties have been suspended while the decision is appealed. Other journalists are also being subpoenaed.
The law on the legal privilege of journalists to avoid being compelled to testify in a criminal inquiry is notoriously sketchy, but the courts have repeatedly recognized that reporters' work is entitled to a degree of protection. In Branzburg v. Hayes, a seminal 1972 Supreme Court decision, Justice Lewis Powell Jr. made it clear that reporters have some constitutional right to protect their confidential sources. Since then, the courts, and even the Justice Department's own internal regulations, have recognized that to preserve the important free-speech interests involved in news gathering, journalists should be subpoenaed in only the rarest of cases.
To unmask a confidential source as part of a criminal investigation, the government should have to show two things: that the information is central to the investigation and that it cannot be obtained any other way. In Mr. Cooper's case, the information could more than likely be provided under oath by government officials, including those implicated. But it is impossible for Mr. Cooper's lawyers to make this argument in any detail because Judge Hogan has allowed the special prosecutor to withhold what he has already uncovered.
Protecting confidential sources benefits society as a whole. People with knowledge of wrongdoing will be reluctant to speak if they know that a reporter's promise of confidentiality can be undone by a prosecutor with a hot tip.
Somehow I don't think this guy's covering for a Pubbie...
If Scooter Libby had given that information to Cooper (who is married to Mandy Grunewald), Cooper would have testified in a New York minute "for the good of the country."
Bingo if this leftist jounalist had any information on a Republican he would be singing like a bird. I have always said follow the money, Joe Wilson got rich and famous off of this, plus his wife is now known and not bound by her oath of secrecy. They are the one who have benifited the most from this.
There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that references the press's need to protect confidential sources.
That's exactly what I posted yesterday after hearing this story.
If it was someone in the Bush Administration they'd be falling all over themselves to divulge the source.
The Washington Post and Time Magazine journalists are not risking jail time because they won't out a Bush staff member.
Heh heh heh. Hoist on their own petard. Gotta love it.
Indeed, the constitution is clear, journalists are not the militia, the people are.
Where to begin
Yet another steaming pile from the NYT.
So let me see if I have this right The NYT and the rest of the useful idiots in the media charge the administration with outing a CIA agent, and demands an investigation to determine who did the leaking.
Despite knowing who provided the name, the leftist bastards continued to report the story as if something illegal had been done by the administration. Now, when they have the opportunity to provide the name, which accomplish their goal of smearing the President, they are claiming their constitutional right to protect their source. Uh .. Why?
I realize that a large number of Americans are apathetic, indifferent, and even ignorant when it comes to political matters, but even the dumbest SOB is capable of seeing through this farce.
Which Clinton holdover are these reporters protecting Could it be the lying sack of excrement himself, Joe Wilson?
Why would journalists be considered more reasonable than the rest?
It is not the journalists who decide, it is the militia which in the end knows where its safety lays and which should take control of rioting media whores (promoting pograms and disarmament, amongst others), even if getting the leftist rioting judges' blessings.
Can you believe how idiotic the New York Times sounds as they huff and puff as is their usual wont?
My understanding is Libby has waived any confidentiality and wants these reporters to testify to their conversations with him so that it is established beyond any doubt that he didn't leak Plame's "name".
I despise the Times, but sometimes they make me laugh, too. This is one of those times. They like to sound like they know what they're talking about, but they don't.
I can't wait to see if someone on the left is charged in this affair. Their head will blow up!!
Surely you jest.
Novak provided a great and honorable service by informing us of why Wilson went off to sip tea and spout lies.
He did nothing wrong in writing his piece
Oh--and they need to keep Cooper.
He was part of the plan to deceitfully portray the Bush administration as retaliating against the Wilsons when he knew all along they did no such thing.
Especially when the person alleged to be the source has said he waives any confidentiality.
Especially when the person alleged to be the source has said he waives any confidentiality.
Especially when the conflicting principle is national security.
Freeing Cooper was also a jest.
Aren't these squealing pigs the same ones that DEMANDED an investigation and JAIL forthe offenders??? LOL!!
read any of my very limited stuff and you'll see where I come from :)
Isn't Matthew Cooper married to Clinton's shill, Mandy Gruenwald??
Yes, he is.
The fact that Matthew Cooper is married to the Clinton shill, Mandy Guenwald, says a LOT!! Cooper is NOT covering for a Pubbeie!! Maybe Mattie will be Frog-Marched!!
Anone know why Tim Russert was interviewed? I did not hear any REASON given! And Timmy the Toad was allowed to give LIMITED info!! I guess the law is just for the Little guys!
Yes, they did give a reason and it had to do with Libby, as I outlined above. If I find a cite in a bit I'll post it here. Russert conceded Libby did not give him any Plame info.
"But no one should be fooled by the unusual circumstances here - the underlying principle remains democracy's need for a free press and the free press's need to operate with a minimum of government interference, and to protect confidential sources."
Or, in the case of the NYTimes, no sources at all (Jayson Blair), or the fact that they get their marching orders from DNC talking points.
Why doesn't the NYTimes fight for a free and UNBIASED press, or at minimum, one that admits it's biases.
As far as I'm concerned, if the press is party to leaking classified information, they should not be above the law. I personally don't give a damn about their confidential sources; a "confidential source" can be fabricated out of thin air. The press needs to be held accountable for what they say. They can do a lot of damage with unattributed sources, can play all sorts of games and lie all sorts of lies.
My question to the New York Times is: If we don't know who your sources are, how do we know you aren't lying? You can make up stories with impunity.
One person who was IN the administration but is now in the Kerry camp is Richard Clarke.
Holy smoke, not another one.
Let's see: Amanpour married to Rubin. David Gregory's married to some ex-Reno protegee. I know there's more. This is incestuous.
I was making that point last night. Scooter Libby gave written releases to journalists he spoke to, then Russert and Cooper still had problems.
Russert went in, and Now Cooper is the Last Man Standing.
Could be a Dem electee, but my $$$$ is on a Dem at State.
No way Cooper tolerates this to protect a Pubbie. (Or Russert for that matter.)
During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger. When I called another official for confirmation, he said: "Oh, you know about it."
And lets face it, once his "wife" became part of the facts, her name was then no matter, since she is listed in Wilson's Who's Who entry....