Patterico's Pontifications


Yup, There’s Something Else Going on with Judith Miller’s Jailing

Filed under: Current Events,General — Patterico @ 12:43 pm

John at Power Line has obtained Scooter Libby’s letter to Judith Miller, in this post. He also has a letter from Libby’s lawyer Joseph Tate to the prosecutor, and a letter from Miller’s lawyer Floyd Abrams responding to the assertions in Tate’s letter.

I think the real news here is that the letters make it clear that something else is going on here.



Judith Miller to Testify, Now That Her Source Has Authorized Her To — Again

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:48 pm

Back in July, I noted that Judith Miller’s source had given her a written waiver allowing her to testify — and that the L.A. Times, anxious to portray the controversy as a test of press freedoms, had buried that fact on page A18. A couple of you commenters (you know who you are) said you didn’t buy the assertion that the source had given a truly voluntary waiver.

Now, Miller has been released from jail, and has agreed to testify. Orin Kerr collects a couple of links that explain what happened. See if any of this sounds familiar:



When Reporters Shield Their Sources

Filed under: Government,Media Bias — DRJ @ 5:39 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

At PowerLine, Scott Johnson posts on the aftermath of the New York Times’ Bush-era exposes of the NSA and SWIFT programs that were based on anonymous leaks. One of the Times’ reporters, James Risen, published a book on these and other topics. Chapter 9 dealt with CIA efforts to disrupt the Iranian nuclear research and Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., has subpoenaed Risen regarding those revelations. Risen is resisting the subpoena, citing the confidentiality he owes as a reporter to his source or sources.

Johnson links a Washington Post guest post by Gabriel Schoenfeld regarding Risen’s obligation as a citizen to reveal his sources:

James Risen has an obligation as a citizen to tell a grand jury who provided him with classified information that may have severely damaged our ability to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. This obligation has not deterred voices in and around the press from justifying both the leaking and the publishing of the leaked materials. Risen himself calls his anonymous sources “heroes.” Others, striking a tone of outrage, profess to see no public purpose served by government secrecy in this critical realm: “The message [the Obama administration is sending] to everyone is, ‘You leak to the media, we will get you,’ ” is what Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, complained to The Washington Post. “We had thought that the Obama administration would be different,” writes Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, “a little less likely to want to menace and jail journalists… I find this utterly disappointing.”

But what is utterly disappointing — yet not in the least surprising if one is familiar with the exalted status members of the press like to confer on themselves–is not the subpoena issued to Risen. Rather, it is the assumption held by Nicholas Kristof and many others in the news business that journalists are exempt from the fundamental obligations of citizenship. If James Risen keeps his silence and is held in contempt of court and then sent to jail, that will certainly provoke howls of outrage in the press. It will also be a just outcome, for no one is above the law.”

These incidents are not novel or unusual. For instance, recently Beldar commented hypothetically regarding what might happen in the Faisal Shahzad case if a law enforcement officer leaked information to reporters about Shahzad’s location:

Being a journalist doesn’t immunize anyone from the consequences of criminal laws. The “shield” is an extremely narrow qualified privilege, and the nature of the privilege is the ability to protect the identity of a confidential source by being exempted from testifying about that particular subject. As a qualified privilege, it can be overcome — ask Judith Miller, or rather, the D.C. Circuit judges who affirmed her contempt sentence to jail — upon a proper showing by the government (basically that the info is really important and there’s no other way to get it). So nothing in the reporter’s shield law says if the reporter breaks a criminal statute, he gets a free pass because he’s a reporter.

Leaking this kind of national security information is certainly a dischargeable offense for any law enforcement officer, and I would be very surprised if it weren’t also a violation of the federal criminal laws. If Obama were serious about national security, he would set about exhausting all other potential sources in order to identify and prosecute the leakers. If no other sources could accomplish that, then it would be time to put the journalist who was tipped to the real hideout location on the witness stand to identify his source, the presumed leaker.”

The Pentagon Papers introduced America to the notion that reporters can expose national secrets. Watergate reinforced that as something exciting, romantic, and a career-builder. But there are and should be consequences to exposing national secrets. In their zeal to break the big story, that’s something reporters have apparently forgotten.



The Legal Jihad Of Libel Suits

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Terrorism — Justin Levine @ 11:07 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

Judith Miller has a great article on the coordinated effort by radical Islamic terror groups in the West to silence people through defamation lawsuits. As Miller notes, California has been very influential for the defense in this war. It would be easier if Washington actually got serious about fighting the war at home with regargds to these groups, but I’ve long given up on that prospect. [h/t: Little Green Footballs]

As I’ve suggested before, free speech is a chimerical notion in today’s litigation-fueled world, unless it also comes equipped with a hearty anti-SLAPP statute.


Patterico’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2005

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Year in Review — Patterico @ 4:40 pm

It is time for this blog’s third annual review of the performance of the Los Angeles Times, which long-time Patterico readers know as the Los Angeles Dog Trainer. The first annual review was posted here. The second annual review was posted in two parts, here and here, and resulted in one of the proudest moments I have had as a blogger: being featured in a Day by Day cartoon.

This year’s installment will cover familiar topics, such as general anti-Republican and pro-Democrat bias, culture wars issues, and media coverage. It will also cover events specific to the year, with a heavy emphasis on judicial confirmation battles, the war in Iraq and the war on terror, and other miscellaneous issues.

This post summarizes an entire year’s worth of work documenting omissions, distortions, and misrepresentations by this newspaper. When someone truly takes the time to provide specific examples of liberal bias in the news media, the result can be voluminous, and this post is no exception. Feel free to bookmark it and return to it in the coming days, browsing through the categories as they interest you.

I hope every new reader who reads this post will bookmark the main page and return often. Bloggers: please blogroll the site if you like it. I’ll be happy to reciprocate the link if I like your site — write me and let me know your URL, and I’ll take a look.

Bloglines subscribers can subscribe by clicking on this button:

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Also, anyone who appreciates the work put into this post is welcome to drop me a few bucks by clicking on the PayPal button at the bottom right-hand corner of the page. I appreciate it very much, and I will write you personally to thank you.

Without further ado, on to the bias:



The Power of the Jump™: Those Non-Confidential Confidential Sources, Part 2

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:15 am

(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)

Once again, on the front page, the L.A. Times reports on the Judith Miller case as a straightforward question of protecting a confidential source — while burying contrary evidence on the back pages. In a story titled Journalist Freed to Testify in Plame Case, this material appears on the front page:

WASHINGTON — New York Times reporter Judith Miller, jailed since July 6 for refusing to reveal a confidential source, was freed Thursday after agreeing to testify about her conversations with the source.

Miller is expected to appear today before a federal grand jury investigating whether anyone in the Bush administration leaked the name of a covert CIA officer to reporters.

Her surprise release, negotiated between Times lawyers and a Justice Department special prosecutor, came after Miller received what the newspaper described as “a direct and un-coerced waiver” from her source that released her from any pledge of confidentiality and enabled her to testify.

You have to go to Page A13 to learn that the source was already non-confidential before Miller ever went to jail:

According to the [New York] Times account, [I. Lewis “Scooter”] Libby [the source] and [Joseph] Tate [his lawyer] strenuously argued that a waiver Libby had provided more than a year earlier was adequate to cover Miller, and that additional assurances were unnecessary.

People close to the case speculated that the possibility of a grueling and seemingly endless jail term may also have been a factor in the resolution.

As I noted last night, Miller had the waiver all along. But if you read only the front page, as most people do, you’ll never know that the “confidential” source wasn’t really confidential at all. But sssshhhhh! It’s all about blowing up Miller into a media martyr.

P.S. This isn’t the first time the paper has done this.


Kinsley Gone

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:14 pm

When Michael Kinsley first arrived at the L.A. Times, I wasn’t impressed. He was famously liberal, having occupied the “left” seat on “Crossfire” for many years. His very first day on the job, he ran a column by Erwin Chemerinsky on the Pledge of Allegiance case, which failed to disclose that Chemerinsky had advised Newdow on the brief and his oral argument presentation. I wrote Kinsley about this, and he completely failed to respond — something that, I’m told, he does to a lot of people. His columns were initially unsatisfying, sometimes verging on courage, but never quite making it — as exemplified by his silly column on judicial activism.

But I came to appreciate Kinsley. He threw open his ideas on Social Security to the blogosphere and was respectful about the results. And he was the one who came up with the idea of the Outside the Tent feature, which I consider to be the most courageous thing this paper has done in ages, with the possible exception of last year’s series on MLK Hospital. He came up with the idea of the “wikitorial,” which many declared a failure because it was defaced with porn by scumbags, but which I considered a bold experiment in interactivity.

Kinsley also got bolder with his opinions, bucking the editorial line on Judith Miller’s assertion of journalistic privilege, and most recently taking on the critics of Bush over Katrina.

In short, I was starting to become a fan.

So naturally, they had to can the guy.

I guess the only consolation is that Kinsley’s former spot is being taken over by Andres Martinez, who has shown some ability to be an independent thinker.

But the bottom line is what Xrlq said to the publisher today: “There are a lot of things broken at your paper that needed fixing. Michael Kinsley was not one of them.”


The Power of the Jump™: Those Non-Confidential Confidential Sources

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:36 am

(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)

Yesterday’s L.A. Times story on the jailing of Judith Miller portrayed the issue on the front page as a “test of press freedoms,” and said:

U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered Judith Miller, 57, imprisoned until she agreed to testify in an investigation into the naming of a CIA operative, declaring that the rights of journalists to gather news and protect confidential sources must occasionally yield to the power of prosecutors to demand testimony and investigate suspected crimes.

The article took until page A18, and the 25th paragraph, to tell us that Miller’s source

has given a general waiver permitting Miller to testify; the journalist has said she does not believe the waiver was signed voluntarily.

When considering whether Miller is a martyr for the protection of sources, isn’t it particularly relevant that the source has signed something saying the source doesn’t need protection?

People can debate whether Miller should have been jailed. But let’s not pretend that this is a black-and-white case where a journalist is protecting a source who clearly wishes to remain confidential, as the L.A. Times implies on page A1.


Right On, Beldar

Filed under: Civil Liberties — Patterico @ 12:45 pm

I recently said that I am not going to look for loopholes to avoid a potential FEC attack on bloggers:

They’ll have to pry this keyboard from my cold dead hands before I am going to “register” with the government for permission to state my personal views without fear of prosecution.

I am heartened to see I have at least one comrade-in-arms who feels exactly the same way: Beldar.

I’m damned sure not going to change my blogging style, nor start running disclaimers every time I blog about a political issue or a politician/candidate. It’s business as usual at BeldarBlog.

If the F.E.C. wants to make me their test case — and a test case somewhere outside the Beltway may be appropriate, given the F.E.C.’s decision not to appeal Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s district court ruling to the D.C. Circuit — I’ll gladly waive personal service and/or arrest. I’ll meet ’em at the courthouse steps with my pocket copy of the Constitution in one hand and my keyboard in the other. Here’s my wrists, boys — cuff me if you dare.

Maybe I’ll beat Judith Miller and Matt Cooper to a jail cell. But I doubt it; and at least I’d have a genuinely principled reason for being there.

Damn right, buddy. I’m right there with you.

This is about as clear a test of our basic freedoms as I’ve seen. Freedom isn’t free. Sometimes you have to fight for it. This is a fight worth taking on, and I commend Beldar for having exactly the right spirit.

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