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Protecting Sources - or the Whitehouse?

Journalists Matthew Cooper of Time and Judith Miller of the N.Y. Times were being held in contempt of court for not revealing their sources in the Valerie Plame case. After being told that the 2 journalists could expect jail time within a week, Time decided to turn over federal documents in the case to the prosecutor. It is not clear if this would be enough to clear Cooper. Media people all over the country are unhappy that these journalists were threatened with jail time merely for protecting their sources. But one must wonder, are they protecting sources or protecting the Whitehouse?

Ambassador Joe Wilson, after visiting Niger, made a statement saying that Bush's statement in his State of the Union address in January 2003 was incorrect, and that Bush twisted intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat. You might say, Wilson blew the whistle on Bush.

So what happened next? Robert "Republicans-are-always-right" Novak leaked the fact that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is in the CIA. As matter of fact, she was an undercover agent for the CIA. Of course, she is that no longer. American security was compromised. This was a crime, not merely a leak.

Novak claimed he got his information from a "senior adminstration official." How many such officials are there? And Bush knows them all. He could have easily found out who the criminal leaker was. But he did not. This is why a prosecutor was appointed: Patrick Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald attacked the crime seriously. However, Bush made sure nothing happened until after the election. Well past the election, we hear that Cooper and Miller don't want to testify and they are slapped with contempt. Novak? He's as pure as a baby.

All the media is up in arms because Cooper and Miller are mistreated. Why should they go to jail merely for protecting their sources? Journalists must do this if they are to inform the public. The courts are hurting freedom of speech.

From this barrage you may get the impression that the media's prime concern is free speech. They want to protect their sources in order to give the public information. To do this they need immunity. Many in the media are right now in Congress trying to get such a shield law passed.

Yes, there are some media outlets that deal with objective facts and fair and honest discussion of opinion. Yes, too, many good media outlets feel that Cooper and Miller should not be forced to reveal their sources.

But too many in the media are nothing but shills for this Republican Administration. To make other media operators move to the right, these Republican shills keep a bashing-regime in place that screams "the media is liberal" all the time.

The media outlets that are part of the Republican echo machine, the ones that scream "liberal bias" every chance they get, are the most vociferous in insisting that they must protect their sources. Sure we must protect sources in order to help whistle blowers. But in this case the whistle blower is Wilson and the leaker (or leakers) is a criminal.

We should not allow journalists to protect criminals. Suppose a "source" comes to you, as a journalist, and tells you that he killed someone. Will you announce it and say you want to protect your "source"? This situation is not much different. A crime has been committed and our security has been damaged. And these guys are talking about protecting sources!

They are protecting the Whitehouse, not sources.

Time is defying these right-minded Rightists by turning documents over to the prosecutor. What do you suppose will happen next? You can expect Time to be blasted as "liberal."

Posted by Paul Siegel at July 1, 2005 7:01 PM