I’ve been torn about the whole Judith Miller case. I believe strongly that, in most instances, reporters ought to be protected from requirements to reveal their sources. But this is mostly to ensure that whistleblowers are encouraged to report on wrongdoing in government and in business without fear of reprisal.
The current issue is very different.
It’s taken me a while to figure out why I find it so different, but I think I’ve got it: the wrongdoing in question is the act of telling the journalists about Valerie Plame’s secret. The reporter in this case is in fact a witness to the crime. This is not a matter of protecting someone who’s revealing government corruption; it’s hiding the identity of the actual corrupt official.
Now I don’t know what I feel about the law making it a crime to reveal the identity of a CIA agent. (We are paying people to do to other countries — spying — that which we prosecute as a crime when others do it to us? Something’s not right there.) But it’s so likely the case that this was done as a punishment against Plame’s husband that it is at least an act of immoral cowardice; that it’s also against the law means that the Administration should chase it down and at least fire the perpetrators. But we all know that Bush values personal loyalty far beyond integrity.
What a mess.
As far as I’m concerned Judith Miller had no right to protect her so-called sources if what they were doing was in fact carrying out a vendetta against Joseph Wilson through his wife. And I haven’t heard any other plausible explanation about the whole sad affair.