Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Journalist Goes to Jail

I have very mixed feelings about the jailing of Judith Miller for refusing a grand jury demand for information on a confidential source. On the one hand, this is another case of a special prosecutor gone wild. It was obvious from pretty early on that no crime had been committed, and it was only because such powerful forces as the New York Times demanded the creation of a special prosecutor that the case has proceeded. Special prosecutors keep going as long as they can get a big budget funded. Regular prosecutors would have ended this investigation long ago.

As to the question of protecting confidential sources, I believe Miller is wrong. A very large distinction needs to be made here, but most commentators lump it all together. If an employee of a government agency knows of some abuses of power or even downright illegalities going on at the agency and gives this information to a reporter, that fits the definition of what should be protected. But imagine a man coming up to a reporter and telling him or her that he had committed a murder. The reporter wrote all of the gory details of the murder, but refuses to name the first-person source. That should not be protected.

In this case, if a crime had been committed, it would have been the very act of telling the reporter about Valerie Plame. This is not a case of a person telling a reporter of an offense he or she had witnessed. This is a case of a reporter witnessing a person committing an act that the special prosecutor was created to determine if it was a crime. I do not believe that the leak constituted a crime, but if the special prosecutor can prove otherwise, Miller is protecting a felon.

Some Thoughts on the SC Nomination Fight

As for who it should be, I only have two thoughts for the President. 1) Do not go with a "moderate." This fight is winnable, so get a truly conservative jurist. By this I do not mean someone who would actively advance politically conservative policies, but one who will interpret the constitution as the founders intended. 2) From a political point of view, any of the three filibustered jurists that got in on "The Deal" would be hard for the Democrats to attack quite as ferociously as they might others. Having found them acceptable only a month ago, their attacks would sound rather hollow, and if a filibuster starts and cloture fails, some of the 7 RINOs who were in on the deal will likely vote to change the Senate rules.

This will not be a repeat of the Bork fight. For one thing, the Republicans now form a majority in the Senate. Yet even more important is what they learned in the Bork fight. That was like the war on terrorism before 9/11. Al Qaida had declared war on the US, but the US did not notice and was not at war with al Qaida. While the Democrats followed the rule that "all's fair," the Republicans thought they were in a gentlemanly dispute. That will not happen this time. Both sides will mobilize, and in a situation like that, the majority Republicans will prevail.