Time Magazine had an excellent article this week about the situation with Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller being compelled to reveal their sources. The person who seems to be emerging as the driver behind all of this is Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, and Patricia Taylor over at The Daily Kos pretty much said the same thing on July 4th. The question is whether Fitzgerald is corruptible or not. He has not shown that he is thus far (and he has a solid record of prosecuting terrorists and crime figures, with a couple of over-zealous mishaps that are probably inevitable).
Still, though, there are at least two aspects to this story that disturb me:
1) The “hands off” treatment given to conservative shill Robert Novak of the Chicago Tribune, when HE is the one that wrote the story that caused the mess. If Fitzgerald wanted to traverse “the shortest distance between two points” in this, as it were, he would subject Novak to the treatment that he’s giving to Miller and Cooper.
However, I don’t know if Fitzgerald is conducting this investigation the way he is because of some jurisdictional dispute between Chicago and New York (though his office operates freely in both locations), or maybe because the Tribune is standing up to him more than the Times did. It’s all speculation at this point. Also, though I detest Novak, he does have a reputation for asking the tough questions over 41 years of reporting, so I grudgingly have to acknowledge that.
2) The fact that Fitzgerald is running roughshod over the protection granted to reporters and their sources which has been acknowledged and respected through institutional practice and legal precedent throughout our country’s history. My hunch is that he’s doing this because he has determined that he can get away with it, and unfortunately he’s right. This also impresses his superiors who reflect Bushco’s mindset, goals, and attitudes, and that must be a consideration in Fitzgerald’s mind also.
Something else that is painfully obvious is that we need a national shield law to protect reporters and their sources (and also weaselly politicians and other operatives who leak information – this is a disreputable practice as far as I’m concerned, but it shouldn’t be illegal). This page provides information on pending legislation in Congress in this vein.
Please contact your U.S. senator or congressperson and ask them for their support. I’m going to track down Rep. Fitzpatrick and Sen. Specter on this (Specter will have his hands full shortly trying to replace O’Connor, but he should sign off on this also). I’d contact Rick “Pennsylvania Uber Alles” Santorum on this, but I’m not going to waste my time (he apparently said something else stupid today, this time about working parents trying to raise their kids…hee hee – keep it up and make it a cakewalk for Casey Jr.!).