Saturday :: Jul 16, 2005

Judith Miller and Treasongate

by eriposte

Billmon has a thoughtful post on Judith Miller and journalist privilege and contempt of court.

He cites this extract from Adam Liptak's NYT piece (bold text is my emphasis):

Asked whether Ms. Miller provided information about Ms. Wilson's identity to the source to whom Mr. Fitzgerald referred, Mr. Freeman [assistant general counsel of The New York Times Company] said: "Judy learned about Valerie Plame from a confidential source or sources whose identity she continues to protect to this day. If the suggestion is that she is covering up for her source or some fictitious source, that is preposterous. Given that she is suffering in jail, it is also mean-spirited."
Let's be very very clear what this evasive answer amounts to. It amounts to a serious and unacceptable attempt to abuse journalistic privilege and borders on obstruction of justice.

Journalistic privilege does not protect the words of a journalist to a source. At best it can be used to protect the identity of the source (but even that is a qualified right). If Judith Miller and the New York Times are unwilling to even state what Judith Miller told her source or contacts, that is not journalistic privilege, that is called obstruction of justice.

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