Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

William Fisher: The Next Judy Miller?

The Next Judy Miller?


By William Fisher

There is an amusing irony in the CIA asking the Justice Department to investigate who leaked to the Washington Post the information that the Agency had set up a covert prison network in Eastern Europe and other countries to hold important terrorism suspects.

The CIA has been one of the leakiest sieves in Washington for years. Much of what we know about its often-unsavory activities has resulted from information Agency officials have shared with journalists on an off-the-record basis. While often over-used, confidential sources are the mother's milk of investigative journalism in Washington.

At the same time, Republican leaders in Congress asked the Intelligence Committees of the House and the Senate to investigate whether classified material had been disclosed.

Ms. Priest's front-page article said the CIA had set up secret detention centers in as many as eight countries in the last four years. The article, describing the prison system as a "hidden global internment network," told of previously undisclosed detention facilities at highly classified "black sites" in "several democracies in Eastern Europe."

Given the current climate of government secrecy and the Bush Administration's seemingly insatiable appetite for retribution, there is a serious downside to this tale.

It is that Dana Priest, who made the secret prison disclosures in the Post, may become the next Judith Miller.

For those who may have been living on Mars for the past two years, Judith Miller is the former New York Times reporter who spent 86 days in jail rather than testify before a grand jury rather than reveal the source of her leaked information about a White House campaign to discredit a critic of the Bush Administration. After receiving a personal release from her source, she fessed up. That source turned out to be Lewis Libby, an assistant to the president and the vice president's chief of staff. Libby was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice by the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the leak and is currently awaiting trial.

Miller, who never wrote a story about the leak, and a number of other journalists who received related information from the White House, will doubtless be called to testify at Libby's trial.

And the story may not end there -- the special prosecutor's investigation is ongoing, placing a dark cloud over, among others, 'Bush's Brain', White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

The CIA's current request is known as a crimes report or criminal referral. It means that the Justice Department will undertake a preliminary review to determine if circumstances justify a criminal inquiry into whether any government official unlawfully provided information to the Post.

It is likely that, if the Justice Department decides to go ahead, it will again appoint a special prosecutor, on the theory that the Administration cannot credibly investigate itself.

If that happens, a big red bullseye will be painted on Dana Priest's back. The prosecutor's number one priority will be to discover who her source was for the 'black hole' prison story - and what happens from there is known only to Ms. Priest and her newspaper.

The good news here is that we now know more about yet another instance of government secrecy, denial and stonewalling. The bad news is that the journalist has again become the story -- and may have to go to jail to remain true to one of her profession's most sacred tenets: protecting the confidentiality of her sources.

All of which underlines the need for a Federal 'shield law' that would offer journalists the protection they enjoy in most states. The Senate is currently considering introducing legislation to establish such a law. While it would not offer 100 per cent protection for journalists - there would almost certainly be a national security exemption - it would be a long-delayed step in the right direction.

The Senate should rouse itself from its slumber and move this legislation to the floor now.

*************

Please click on the link below.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BILL FISHER - http://billfisher.blogspot.com/

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Dunne Speaks: Can ACT's Dream Run Continue?

By most reckonings the ACT Party has had a very successful political year. Not only has its expanded Parliamentary team settled in well to its work, without controversy or scandal, but its leader has gained in community respect, and the party’s support, at least according to the public opinion polls, has increased sharply... More>>

Keith Rankin: Basic Universal Income And Economic Rights
"Broad growth is only going to come when you put money in the hands of people, and that's why we talk about a Universal Basic Income". [Ritu Dewan, Indian Society of Labour Economics]. (From How long before India's economy recovers, 'Context India', Al Jazeera, 31 Oct 2021.) India may be to the 'Revolution of the twenty-first century' that Russia was to the 'Revolution of the twentieth century'... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Foreseeable Risk: Omicron Makes Its Viral Debut
It has been written about more times than any care to remember. Pliny the Elder, that old cheek, told us that Africa always tended to bring forth something new: Semper aliquid novi Africam adferre. The suggestion was directed to hybrid animals, but in the weird pandemic wonderland that is COVID-19, all continents now find themselves bringing forth their types, making their contributions. It just so happens that it’s southern Africa’s turn... More>>



Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>

Globetrotter: Why Julian Assange’s Inhumane Prosecution Imperils Justice For Us All

When I first saw Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison, in 2019, shortly after he had been dragged from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, he said, “I think I am losing my mind.”
He was gaunt and emaciated, his eyes hollow and the thinness of his arms was emphasized by a yellow identifying cloth tied around his left arm... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>