Scooter in the Dock


I confess both to not really following the Scooter Libby trial and to not really understanding all the ins and outs of "the Plame affair." But I sort of like Michael Kinsley's take in Time about one of the major themes surrounding Libby's trial. A snippet from his piece:

Libby is charged with perjury, not with the leak itself. But some might recall that perjury, and not illicit sex, was the charge in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton a few years ago. And many people–including me–felt that prosecutor Ken Starr had set Clinton up: perjury is not good, but there had been a fundamental unfairness in forcing Clinton to choose between committing perjury and revealing information he should never have been asked for. Libby's case is similar, isn't it? That is, it is similar if you hold to all the theology about the importance of leaks. If leaks are good and must be protected and if we make no distinction between good leaks and bad ones, unofficial leaks and official ones, true leaks and false ones (and the theology makes no such distinctions: all leaks must be protected), then Libby should not have had to testify about whether he had leaked the Plame identity to anyone. And if he had not been asked, he would not now be accused of lying.

If leaks are vital to the freedom of the press, then surely both of the people needed to create a leak–the reporter and the source–deserve protection. If Judy Miller is a martyr of press freedom, then so is Scooter Libby.

More, including a nice takedown of journalistic sanctimony regarding exceptions to the the First Amendment, here.

Back in 2004, Kinsley's former colleague at Slate, Jack Shafer, pissed on anonymous sources and journalists who rely on them, which are at the heart of the Libby trial (that much I know). Check it out here.

And last year in Reason, John Berlau investigated how Sarbanes-Oxley–yes, the accounting rules regs–may have brought Time Warner to heel during Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the Plame story. Worth reading here.