Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Say What? Reporters to testify to information already known by the prosecutor?

OK, color me confused. By now everyone's heard that unhinged lunatic Lawrence O'Donnell is claiming that the person who outed CIA operative Valerie Plame was Karl Rove. Frankly, if Lawrence O'Donnell tells me it's noon then I'm thinking it's midnight. The man has zero credibility after his frothing spew-fest on MSNBC across from a very patient and professional John O'Neill. Still, a busted, useless clock is correct twice a day, so I figured I'd just wait to see what comes out of the trial now that the 2 reporters in question have been denied an appeal to the Supreme Court. Their legal wiggling over their refusal to testify is over. However, have a look at this story:

::::::::In a high-stakes battle over press freedom, two reporters face jail, possibly as early as Wednesday, for refusing to divulge their sources to a prosecutor investigating the Bush administration's leak of a CIA officer's identity.

"Journalists are not entitled to promise complete confidentiality — no one in America is," Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald told a judge.

In court papers, Fitzgerald said the source of Matthew Cooper (search) of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times has waived confidentiality, giving the reporters permission to reveal where they got their information.

The prosecutor did not identify the reporters' source, nor did he specify whether the source of each reporter was the same person.

OK, do I read this right? The prosecutor already knows not only who the source(s) is/are, but that a confidentialy waiver has been signed by the source(s)? So if the public prosecutor's office is already in possession of that info, why not just say who it is? Or is this some sort of legal issue that the reporters have to testify to it to make it admissable?

Of course, I'd rather hear these reporters say it anyway. The fact that the two of them lost their case that they shouldn't have to testify appears to be lost on them. One of them, Matthew Cooper of Time, is saying he doesn't need to testify since Time already turned over his notes. I say he needs to testify for 2 reasons. 1) A notebook cannot be sworn in and held to an oath to tell everything. It can only provide the information that was written down. Perhaps Cooper wrote down everything, perhaps not. Perhaps Time Magazine turned over all the notes, perhaps not. Cooper needs to sit his butt down in that chair and answers the questions.

2) The judge said he (and Judith Miller of The New York Times, by the way) must testify or be held in comtempt. Cooper fought it, had his day in court, and lost. Now he just wants to get his way, not testify, and not go to jail. Sorry. We already answered that one and the law says he needs to sit his butt down in that chair and answers the questions. Allowing him to get by without testifying only undermines the authority of our legal system and will encourage other journalists to consider themselves above the law, too. And you have to love the sheer bowling-sized balls the two of them are displaying in asking to be allowed to be incarcerated for contempt of court at their own homes. Oh, sure, that sounds good. Flip off the legal system, lose your case and every single appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court, and then ask that the punishment for that contempt amount to being sent to your room.

Nuh-uh. You gambled, you lost. Sit both of your butts down, cough up the source of your stories and answer the rest of the prosecution's questions, or get used to brightly-colored jumpsuits and iron-colored vertical stripes for room decor. Not to mention roommates with decidely less ivy-league credentials than the newsrooms have gotten you used to seeing.