[Marxism] Robert Scheer on Judith Miller's stonewalling

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Tue Nov 1 06:19:37 MST 2005

"This case was never about protecting government sources who risk their 
careers by telling the truth, but rather about punishing those like 
Wilson who do."

What Judy forgot: Your Right to Know

November 1, 2005 -– The most intriguing revelation of Special 
Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's news conference last week was his 
assertion that he would have presented his indictment of I. Lewis 
"Scooter" Libby a year ago if not for the intransigence of reporters 
who refused to testify before the grand jury. He said that without that 
delay, "we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 

Had that been the case, John Kerry probably would be president of the 
United States today.

Surely a sufficient number of swing voters in the very tight race would 
have been outraged to learn weeks before the 2004 election that, 
according to this indictment, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of 
staff –- a key member of the White House team that made the fraudulent 
case for invading Iraq –- "did knowingly and corruptly endeavor to 
influence, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice."

It is deeply disturbing that the public was left uninformed about such 
key information because of the posturing of news organizations that 
claimed to be upholding the free-press guarantee of the 1st Amendment. 
As Fitzgerald rightly pointed out, "I was not looking for a 1st 
Amendment showdown." Nor was one necessary, if reporters had fulfilled 
their obligation to inform the public, as well as the grand jury, as to 
what they knew of a possible crime by a government official.

How odd for the press to invoke the Constitution's prohibition against 
governmental abridgement of the rights of a free press in a situation 
in which a top White House official exploited reporters in an attempt 
to abridge an individual's right to free speech.

The spirit of a law is more important than the letter, but the 
reporters who fought to avoid testifying to the grand jury in the 
investigation that snared Libby upheld neither. They were acting as 
knowing accomplices to a top White House official's attempt to 
discredit a whistle-blower.

As the indictment makes clear, this was a case in which the reporters 
had direct knowledge relevant to the commission of a crime perpetrated 
by at least one top administration aide. "They're the eyewitness to the 
crime," Fitzgerald said.

In particular, the indictment makes a farce of the theatrics of New 
York Times reporter Judith Miller. She knew early on that Libby was 
using the media to punish former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV 
for exposing President Bush's false claim that Iraq sought nuclear 
material from the African nation of Niger. According to the indictment, 
at a June 23, 2003, meeting with Miller, "Libby was critical of the CIA 
and disparaged what he termed 'selective leaking' by the CIA concerning 
intelligence matters. In discussing the CIA's handling of Wilson's trip 
to Niger, Libby informed her that Wilson's wife might work at a bureau 
of the CIA."

That paragraph from the indictment is key to this entire sordid affair. 
Wilson at that time was beginning to talk to reporters about one of the 
more egregious distortions in the president's State of the Union speech 
justifying the Iraq invasion –- the 16-word fabrication about Saddam 
Hussein's nuclear intentions.

Libby, who had been a source for Miller's erroneous hyping in the New 
York Times of Iraq's WMD threat, was now attempting to shift blame to 
the Central Intelligence Agency by impugning Wilson's motives for 
stepping forth as a critic of the war.

Instead of confronting Libby for trying to mislead reporters, Miller 
did nothing to expose his efforts to smear a former ambassador for 
raising such questions. At the very least, she should have written a 
story stating that a White House official was planting information to 
disparage a critic of its war policy. Miller couldn't do that because 
she had acceded to Libby's demand that his White House connection be 
concealed in any articles she wrote, by identifying him as a "former 
[Capitol] Hill staffer."

This case was never about protecting government sources who risk their 
careers by telling the truth, but rather about punishing those like 
Wilson who do. That Miller cared far more about protecting someone who 
abused his power as the vice president's chief of staff than about 
protecting the right of Wilson to speak truth to power says volumes 
about her priorities.

That the New York Times again editorialized last week in defense of its 
knee-jerk support of Miller, even after knowing she deceived her 
editors, is a startling indication that even some of our most respected 
media leaders still are missing the point.

The 1st Amendment protection is not a license for mischief on the part 
of journalists eager to do the government's bidding. To the contrary, 
it was conceived by the founders to prevent government from subverting 
the free press in an effort to misinform the public. Unfortunately, 
that is precisely what occurred here.

Copyright © 2005 Robert Scheer


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