Skip to comments.Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Jail I Go
Posted on 07/08/2005 10:41:29 AM PDT by Congressman BillybobEdited on 07/08/2005 12:00:09 PM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]
Last week two reporters whose sense of self-importance is exceeded only by the hubris of their owners (excuse me, publishers) faced being hauled off to the hoosegow. One of them, Matt Cooper of Time magazine, got a last-minute reprieve. But the other, Judith Miller of the New York Times, got carted off in handcuffs, toothbrush in hand.
I was particularly interested in the sanctimony they and their mouthpieces (excuse me, highly-paid lawyers) offered to the assembled throng of hand-wringing fellow journalists outside the courthouse.
First, lets set the stage. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is using a federal grand jury to investigate whether a crime was committed by an apparent federal employee revealing the name of Joseph Wilsons wife, Valerie Plame, who is (or was) a CIA undercover agent. Wilson was, of course, the hold-over Clinton diplomat who got assigned to go to Nigeria, sip tea with friends in Lagos and then report back that Saddam Hussein did not attempt to buy unprocessed uranium ore from that country.
Of course, there is the little problem that the original and well-documented reports were that Iraq had sought to buy the ore in Africa, not solely from Niger. And sipping tea with government officials is sometimes the worst way to get accurate information in any nation. But thats not what this is about. Wilson later turned his exploits into a book which was as successful as his testimony to the 9/11 Commission was honest, which is to say, somewhat. But how did Wilson get this assignment?
According to a column by Bob Novak, Wilson got the job because he was highly recommended by his wife, the previously unknown Valerie Plame. She was so unknown that she had a feature in Vanity Fair. It covered post partum psychiatric problems shed had, and was advising others about. Not exactly the low profile one expects of a CIA spy.
Anyway, the question pursued by Prosecutor Fitzgerald was the name of the source which outed Valerie Plame. Apparently, Novak is cooperating with the investigation. But, Cooper and Time and Miller and New York Times got on their respective high-horses and claimed the First Amendment was on its last legs unless they were granted a well-deserved exemption from the obligation of all other citizens to testify about crimes, if called as witnesses.
Even losing their appeal to the Supreme Court did not change the holier-than-thou stance of these reporters and their employers. Apparently, the sources whod talked to both these reporters on the subject of Ms. Plame had signed waivers allowing the reporters to speak. But a lack of legal justification has never stopped the pontification of either Time or the Times when discussing their views on constitutional law.
So, Judith Miller was hauled off to a slammer in the D.C. area, to stay there until the Grand Jury she refuses to talk to, has disbanded in October. At the last minute, she asked to be sent to a better lock-up. Press reports did not indicate whether it was the accommodations or the companionship in the standard D.C. lock-up which was beneath her standards. Who did she think she was? Martha Stewart?
In any event, Judge Hogan was taking no more guff from recalcitrant reporters who brooked his authority. Ms. Miller went off to the standard lock-up last week.
What lessons are we to learn from this whole imbroglio?
First, the leaders of the MSM (mainstream media) are neither as correct, nor as above the law which applies to us ordinary people, as they believe. Second, the MSM uses the First Amendment like an old West gunslinger used his trusty revolver. Draw it fast, fire in all directions, and scare all opponents into submission.
But the main lesson to be learned from this affair was that the MSM neither understands nor deserves the protections of the First Amendment. Besides, a well-paid phalanx of lawyers is worth ten times the protective value of a mere Amendment, any old day.
It is only the real media, the cutting edge of the media, the small-fry in the local press and on the Internet, who deserve the protection of the First Amendment. And that group tends to take it in the neck because of their lack of resources and apparent limited importance. I saw signs of that in two days of testimony before the Federal Election Commission, last week. But thats a story for another day.
As for Judith Miller, everybody sing along now, Hi ho, hi ho, its off to jail I go ....
About the Author: John Armor is a First Amendment attorney and author who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. John_Armor@aya.yale.edu
John / Billybob
Reporters: "Don't blame us for publishing secrets--blame the people who gave us the information, they MADE us publish secrets!"
So, did the Vanity Fair article mention she was a CIA employee?
And if not, what is the point of even mentioning it?
Perhaps an even more relevant question here would be, was a crime even committed?
In "outing" Miss Plame, that is?
She was shipped off to the Alexandria detention center. I pass by it every day on my way to work (you can see it from I-95 on the DC beltway). IIRC it's also Moussaoui's digs.
"A LEAK?? You call what's been going around here a LEAK? Boy, the last time there was a leak like this Noah built hisself a BOAT!"
"Come sundown there's going to be two things true that aren't true right now. One is that the United States Department of Justice is going to find out what in the Good Christ (excuse me) is going on here. And the second is I'm going to have somebody's ass in my briefcase!"
I wonder if Susan McDougal gave her tips for surviving prison.
One question. I remember reading way back when, that Victoria Plame was known before the original article came out, and her name was no secret. I can't remember exactly how.
Methinks somebody's grandstanding.
She was in Who's Who. It identified her employer, too.
I'm no lawyer, but doesn't that negate any possible criminal charges?
That's how it looks to me, too. The jail should charge her for room and board.
Its why this entire matter is so silly.
You have FReepmail.
The MSM did this to themselves. Now they want a "National Shield Law."
Small correction: it was Niger, not Nigeria. Thought you'd like to know.
"It covered post partum psychiatric problems shed had,"
Would venture to speculate that the CIA didn't want Plame acknowledge that she was crazy so the CIA got her off the public payroll fast.
Was Gerald Fitzpatrick there too?
And Methinks Ms. Miller has an invisible friend.
You think she's her own source?
I think she made up the fact that she had a source.
Now she can't name it, because if it differs from what Novak and the other reporter say, she is up the river on a perjury charge.
There is no way a reporter for the New York Times would go to jail to protect someone in the Bush Administration, especially when his name is going to come out anyway, and he has reportedly already released them from confidentiality.
Well done, counsellor...
Depends which source for which story. If her Plame source released her, I think she would tell that; but if they want to know the source who tipped her off about an impending raid on a phony Islamonazi "charity", maybe THAT source is afraid he/she'll be exposed as trying to damage our national security...
Great article, once again.
Where is this same investigation regarding the fake Bush National Guard memo that was a forgery, with intent to manipulate the most important US election?
Why are news people not being forced to reveal sources here?
No one is being prosecuted for publishing secrets. The 1st Amendment prevents that.
But the 1st gives the press no right to engage in criminal activies, such as conspiracy or theft, to get a story. To carry this to its (il)logical conclusion, a journalist cannot commit murder with impunity to get a story.
Bump carolina, billybob, she beat me to it...this is a good article. Poses the notion--"Maybe there's no source in this sourcepan."
I like your entire line of reasoning, dina.
Great column, Congressman!(apart from the geography blooper...:0#) lol!