Jailing Judy

The New York Times has brought William Safire back from the undead to make a pretty weak case for Judith Miller. If they could jail journalists for lying, Safire would never get out of the slammer. A few of his whoppers and laughers:
The Supreme Court has just flinched from its responsibility to stop the unjust jailing of two journalists - not charged with any wrongdoing
Actually Bill, contempt of court *is* wrongdoing, even in New York.
The case was about the "outing" of an agent - supposedly covert, but working openly at C.I.A. headquarters
Damn, as open as that - right in CIA Headquarters. That's sort of like putting up a billboard in Times Square, huh?

His next absurdity is so ironically wrongheaded that I almost laughed and cried at the same time.
After spending two years and thousands of F.B.I. agent-hours and millions of dollars that could better have been directed against terrorism and identity theft, the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, admits his investigation has been stalled since last October.
Er, yeah, he said it was stalled because these two witnesses, held in contempt for refusal to testify, were busy clogging up the federal courts with their appeals.
That privilege not to testify - held by lawyers, members of the clergy, spouses and others - gives assurance to whistleblowers that information confided to a reporter revealing corruption or malfeasance in government will not result in loss of job or more severe retaliation from on high.
Only thing is, Bill, the persons being protected here are the ones guilty of the corruption and malfeasance.
The contempt epidemic is spreading fast. Yesterday, a federal appeals panel in the District of Columbia followed up the Supreme Court flinch by forcing a New York Times reporter and three other journalists in a different case to burn their sources or be sentenced
And all they did was help corrupt public officials ruin the life of an innocent scientist.

OK, I dropped another insult to Safire to make room for an acknowledgement of one honestly useful (but unlikely to be implemented) suggestion:
3. Mr. Novak should finally write the column he owes readers and colleagues perhaps explaining how his two sources - who may have truthfully revealed themselves to investigators - managed to get the prosecutor off his back.


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