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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

It's all in the timing - John Carson

Kristof writes "Paging China! Help us! Urge the U.S. government to respect freedom of the press!...three different U.S. federal judges, each appointed by President Ronald Reagan...U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres found Mr. Taricani in contempt for refusing to identify the person he got the videotape from, and the judge fined him $1,000 a day... Then there's Patrick Fitzgerald, the overzealous special prosecutor who is the Inspector Javert of our age. Mr. Fitzgerald hasn't made any progress in punishing the White House officials believed to have leaked the identity of the C.I.A. officer Valerie Plame to Robert Novak. But Mr. Fitzgerald seems determined to imprison two reporters who committed no crime, Judith Miller of The New York Times [Finally we get to the point] and Matthew Cooper of Time, because they won't blab about confidential sources.

Jesusof Maryof and Josephof, I understand that blood is thicker than logic, but couldn't you have just said that you consider the sanctity of your employer more important than the law?

Freedom of the press does not imply that the sacred promises made by journalists to criminals
must be allowed to help criminals violate the law. Our constitution, in parchment and ink, does not stand between judges and journalists' sources. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;..." does not imply that any law inconvenient to journalists is unconstitutional. People who witnessed a crime can be compelled to testify against the criminals other than themselves. "nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself" does not mean "nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against his or her confidential source"

The thing that really bothers me about this idiotic op ed is the pretense that it is about Mr. Taricani in Providence not Judith Miller in New York. The three seperate examples just show that there is nothing unusual about Fitzgerald or the Plame case. Promises of confidentiality of journalists to their sources have no particular constitutional status. The claim that refusal to defer to such promises is equivalent to censorship reminds us that the political power of journalists has caused enough arrogance to overcome their ability to read the plain english of the 1st and 5th amendments..

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