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What, Novak Worry?

February 15, 2005

CIA leak reporters ‘must testify’ – BBC News

I don’t get it. I’m no expert at law. But the crime in the Plame case was ”..disclosing a covert agent’s name.. [Which is] punishable by up to 10 years in prison.” Robert Novak revealed Plame’s name in his column. Her name was disclosed to him by an ”executive branch official.” Apparently two journalists were also made privy to this information. However, at least one of them didn’t even do anything with it. (“Miller gathered material for a story but never wrote one.”) Why do these journalists face prison when Novak, who to my mind is an accomplice to the crime as he was the one who revealed Plame’s name to the world, doesn’t have to testify? It would seem to me that possessing the knowledge (i.e.: Plame’s name, and the identity of the source) cannot possibly be a crime. They simply possesed the ‘intellectual property.’ Whereas Novak, who had the knowledge and proceeded to publish it, fully aware of the statute against “disclosing a covert agent’s name,” made himself complicit in the ”executive branch official’s” crime.

I understand there are also issues here with regard to freedom of the press and the need for journalists to be able to protect confidential sources. But, if these journalists’ rights are to be jeopardized as they seem to be in this case, why the unequal treatment? Really, I don’t get it.

MTT (Marginal Theory Time): Maybe there is more than one ‘source’ within the Administration. One less worthy of protection from exposure than whoever talked to Novak. Or, maybe this is whole thing is a ploy by the administration to limit reporting and stifle sources, in which case, Novak is the one most deserving of protection.

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