Thursday, July 14, 2005
Gene Lyons On Judith Miller, Plame, and Rove
Back at the beginning, the Times was breathing smoke and fire, calling the White House leak "an egregious abuse of power" and demanding an investigation. Now that several courts have deemed Judith Miller to be an essential witness, the newspaper compares her civil disobedience to everybody from the Boston Tea Party patriots to Martin Luther King Jr. In a haughty tone familiar to anybody who’s ever caught the newspaper with its metaphorical pants down, the editors remind the prosecutor that they’re The New York Times and he’s not: "Mr. Fitzgerald’s attempts to interfere with the rights of a free press while refusing to disclose his reasons for doing so, when he can’t even say whether a crime has been committed, have exhibited neither reverence nor cautious circumspection." What rubbish. Reverence, indeed. (To be fair, it’s an allusion to James Madison, not a demand to be worshipped.) In making its argument, the Times states that it wouldn’t print information that "would endanger lives and national security." So here’s my question: In a post-9/11 world, what information could possibly be more sensitive than the identity of a covert agent charged with preventing nuclear proliferation? Answer: None. Let’s put aside the fact that Miller has long been a passionately outspoken ally of Bush administration neo-conservatives who pushed for war with Iraq. She gave paid public speeches urging Saddam’s overthrow. Many journalists have asked why such a partisan was given the Iraqi WMD assignment to begin with. The answer? Access, access and access.A-yep. And Miller's access was and is extraordinary; we're talking about a civilian reporter who was ordering Generals around in Iraq on behalf of her good friend Ahmad Chalabi. Which leads me to Gene Lyons' next point:
What everybody's ignoring here is that Fitzgerald already knows Miller's sources. That's not what he wants to ask her. His prosecution brief urging her incarceration stipulates that "her putative source has been identified and has waived confidentiality." Even Times editor Bill Keller has conceded that there's no imaginable journalist's shield law that would protect her. It's Miller's patriotic duty to talk.
So what is she really protecting? I wonder if Miller's trying to cover up the true extent of her involvement with BushCo and PNAC -- as well as with Ahmad Chalabi, the Greatest Con Artist of All Time?
After all, if she -- like Cooper -- has been released from her confidentiality vow, what's keeping her lip zipped?
The e-mail was characterized by the Sunday Mail as follows:
In an email to American author Judy Miller, sent just before he left his home for the last time, he referred to "many dark actors playing games".
I tend to think that Fitzgerald chose the extreme measure of threatening jail because he believed that one or both of the reporters were conspirators. That doesn't mean they were.It's possible that Fitzgerald is trying to get enough to indict Novak on perjury charges, for which he would need evidence that Novak has lied about a material fact. Judith Miller could simply see jail as a means of rehabilitating her professional image.
It's a very intriguing case. And, as much as I regard Judith "E.C." Miller as an exemplar of everything that is wrong with journalism, the main target is probably a high Administration official. She is just a hostile witness to be squeezed until she disgorges the information necessary to convict that official.
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