Pressing matters


Tucked into a report on the Plame Grand Jury, today's Washington Post reports:

Fitzgerald may learn more details from Cooper's notes. Sources close to the investigation say there is evidence in some instances that some reporters may have told government officials —— not the other way around —— that Wilson was married to Plame, a CIA employee.

If this is true, the Plame story has to be the most outrageous case of Fourth Estate abuse of its powers in history, surpassing last year's Rathergate.

To recap. The New York Times carried an attack by Joseph C. Wilson designed to undercut the President's credibility on his justification for the war in Iraq. CBS gave his charges wider airing and helped sell his book which repeated those charges. John Kerry gave Wilson a prominent role in his campaign and on his website.

The Administration had no idea what Wilson's charges were about, having had no knowledge of Wilson's mission or "oral report," and indicated only what they knew —— that his wife had recommended him for this position and (apparently from other sources in the press) that she was in a position to do that because worked at the CIA.

The President's opponents charged that this truthful response was an outrageous effort to punish Plame for Wilson's daring to "speak truth to power." A bipartisan Senate Intelligence Commission some time later found everything Wilson had said was a lie, but the press kept the storyline of a vicious, unlawful retaliation alive, demanding a full investigation, the appointment of a special prosecutor and the recusal of the Attorney General.

And now it appears, that reporters themselves were the source of the information about Plame's employment; that reporters were given waivers of confidentialiy pledges and still refuse to testify; that newspapers which argued that the Agee law was violated now admit it probably wasn't; and that the press which was the source of the critical information and demanded this investigation knew all along the charges that the Administration "outed" Plame were a lie and yet are trying to keep the truth from coming out in the very investigation they demanded.

One could  not  fashion a better scenario for refusing to enact federal legislation crafting a reporter's privilege against testifying in federal proceedings.

Clarice Feldman   7 06 05