July 7, 2005

Reporter Miller goes to jail; judge mouths bad metaphor.

I respect civil disobedience, defying the law for a cause. Part of it is accepting the consequences, as Judith Miller is doing. It's a very powerful image, a person going willingly to jail for a principle deeply believed in. It can work to produce a change in the law.
"I have a person in front of me," Judge Hogan said, "who is defying the law."...

Ms. Miller, who conducted interviews but never wrote an article about the C.I.A. operative, joins a line of journalists who have accepted jail time rather than betray their sources' confidences. That tradition, according to Judge Hogan, does not deserve respect.

"That's the child saying: 'I'm still going to take that chocolate chip cookie and eat it. I don't care,'" the judge said.
There being no federal journalist's privilege, the judge had to punish Miller, but he didn't have to say that. His effort to strip all dignity from her as she made her grand gesture backfired and made him look small.


Jake said...

This silly thing has been going on for a year and could been have being taken care of in an afternoon. This is what the courts should have done:

Have a federal grand jury subpoena all the news hacks who said they received leaks on this affair, Make they repeat their stories and make them reveal their sources. If they do not, put them in jail and fine them $100,000 a day which must be paid out of their own pockets.

Once they have given their sources, prosecute or fire those people named if they are guilty. If these news hacks were lying, send them to jail for perjury.

Sloanasaurus said...

"....It's a very powerful image, a person going willingly to jail for a principle deeply believed in..."

So what principle is Miller espousing? Is it the principle that journalists should be above the law? That journalists should be allowed to be party to a crime... i.e., participating in the outing a CIA agent for political reasons and expecting immunity because they are a "journalist?"

The media brought this whole incident upon themselves by making a big deal about the whole issue to begin with. That is obvious to everyone but the mainstream media.

Ann Althouse said...

Sloanasaurus: Willingness to go to jail is submission to the law. And you know very well what the principle is.

Sloanasaurus said...

If the principle is "protecting your anonymous source.. who may have committed a crime" Is that a principle that we should hold in high regard?

Ann Althouse said...

The principle is getting the news to the public, which done by the means of gaining and preserving access to sources -- all sources, not just the individual one that has become the focus of a criminal investigation.

Sloanasaurus said...

What if that news is in itself criminal or damaging, such as the cover of a CIA agent or the stragey of a secret plan. For example, what if a person sympathetic to the opponents of a cross channel invasion decides to leak the plans for Operation Overlord to a "journalist." Would it be principled for the journalist to protect their anonymous source after the plans are leaked and the operation is compromised?

J said...

The principle can't be as absolute as that. In this case the crime, if there was one, was in revealing information illegally to the journalist--without the journalist's participation there would be no crime. As far as I know no other privilege such as lawyer-client or priest-confessor allows the privileged party to participate in committing a crime and then claim immunity. This seems like a really stupid set of facts to try and argue for a broad journalist's privilege on.

Ann Althouse said...

There should be some kind of nonabsolute privilege framed in a statute. Obviously, the journalists themselves are going to want an extra-broad or even absolute privilege.

Sloanasaurus said...

I know this is a cliche argument, but would such a broad statute require that a "journalist" be defined? Would journalists then have to be "licensed" in the same way lawyers are licensed. Would that be the first step to shutting down the blogosphere.

Maybe I am getting ahead of myself!

Contributors said...

If Judith Miller and the NY Times think this is getting them anywhere but invited to better Manhattan cocktail parties, they are mistaken.

Most don't like the media specifically for the very reasons Miller chose to go to jail: They have an entirely too high opinion of themselves and feel they're above everything; truth, country, right, wrong, and now the law.

I'm sure the martyr Miller was giddy with the prospect of dominating the headlines knowing a media so in love with itself and out of touch would make this the new Aruba, but the tragedy in London has sadly spoiled that. Now, she'll have to be content figuring out how to spend the money from the book deal about her "ordeal."

Miller is not Martin Luther King --because she's wrong. Her cause is misguided. Her principles are immoral. She's where she belongs. And her being where she belongs is more than news. It's great news. As is the case when any lawbreaker goes to jail.

goesh said...

You know darn well Karl Rove is sending her lots of expensive chocolates and toiletries and encouraging words and sending anonymous cash to her dependents, if she has any. You go Karl!

Beth said...

I'd have an easier time admiring Miller if she wasn't protecting a poweful person within a powerful adminstration whose purpose in leaking was to harm a threat to that administration's policies. But the point of the First Amendment is to protect free speech in the uncomfortable circumstances, so I suppose I have to at least support the principle of protecting sources. Still, I hate to see it perverted in this way.

I'd much rather see that hack Novak doing a frog march to jail--he printed this leak while Cooper and Miller did not. He let the press be used for harm, not to improve the flow of information to the American people.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you may think of Hogan's attitude towards civil disobedience, he's also guilty of prejudging the underlying case:

"This is not a case of a whistle-blower" revealing secret information to Miller about "dangers at a nuclear power plant," Hogan said. "It's a case in which the information she was given and her potential use of it was a crime. . . . This is very different than a whistle-blower outing government misconduct."

Kevin S. said...

What is the wisdom of protecting anonymous sources? To be sure, the press and public will have more information if sources can remain confidential, but is that information more *accurate*?

The lack of accountability of anonymous sources proliferates bad information. Those who are not supposed to blab to anyone due to the confidential nature of their employment and break that confidence by blabbing to reporters give information that is presumptively untrustworthy. And I don't see how flooding the marketplace with presumptively untrustworthy information furthers our pursuit of the truth.

Sloanasaurus said...

I don't think jail is enough for Miller and it isn't enough of a deterrance. Instead they should give her jail without access to the news. NO NY TIMES FOR MILLER FOR FOUR MONTHS Four months of reading old novels and comic books should be enough to spook any journalist into testifying.

Unknown said...

Of course she's being princpled. That's why there are state laws in something like 49 states that protect the confidentiality of journalists.

Considering the fact that we have freedom of the press, and we don't want to compromise legitimate news stories from getting to the public (can you say Watergate?) Miller is maintaining her word to ALL of her sources that she can be trusted. Who the hell is ever going to provide info to Time magazine again in a confidential manner?

And if journalists shouldn't be allowed to hold information in confidence, then please explain to me why a priest or a therapist or a lawyer should have that privilege?

Yes - she's breaking the law, but the law needs to be changed.

jeff said...

Has anyone here ever had, or even been within sniffing distance of a security clearance?

Classified is classified. Revealing it, regardless how you came by it, should be punished severely.

It's obvious that she knew she was revealing sensitive or classified information to the public.

Let her rot in jail.

Jake said...


This article proves why journalists should not given any special privileges. It mentions this about Wilson.

"Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who had recently written an opinion article in The New York Times questioning one of the rationales, concerning Iraq's weapons program, offered by the Bush administration for the Iraq war. Mr. Wilson based his criticism on a trip he had taken to Niger for the C.I.A".

No mention is made that Wilson admitted before the 9/11 commission that he lied in that opinion article. That in fact, a Nigerian leader did tell him that he was contacted by Saddam who wanted nuclear material.

There is not a profession in the world that has less ethics than the "journalist" profession. To give these scumbags any privileges is a threat to our freedom.

Sloanasaurus said...

:...And if journalists shouldn't be allowed to hold information in confidence, then please explain to me why a priest or a therapist or a lawyer should have that privilege..."

Isn't the difference with journalists over priests, etc.. is that in the case of the journalist, the information is leaked with the purpose of the information being published for the public to view (anonymously). In the other cases, the information is given with the purpose that it NOT be given out to the public. This is a huge difference. The journalist is protecting the source, and the other professions are protecting the information.

Unknown said...

It's obvious that she knew she was revealing sensitive or classified information to the public.

Wrong Jeff. She never revealed anything. In fact, she never even wrote an article about it.

The guy who did reveal the information, Bob Novak, is walking the streets free (as he should in my book).

goesh said...

Aye! That common brigands receive'th the lash
with n'er an imposition upon their flow of cash
make'th Justice but a lowly mish-mash
Lo! This defiant gala become'th naught but a drunkard's bash

Contributors said...

The Times and most of the MSM should be charged with sedition.

But no, in America freedom to betray your country is more important than protecting it. So, these al-Jazeera lites ramble on prolonging the war and wrap themselves in the sanctimony of a "higher cause" as they do it.

Splash of urine on a Koran = headlines for days of propaganda for the enemy. And yet...

Christ dipped in piss = Art.

These people are not on our side. And we can't throw enough of them in jail.

Gort said...

How come Bob Novak is not in trouble for publishing her name in the first place?

Anonymous said...

I really see no difference between Miller and Judge Moore down in Alabama, refusing to comply with an order of the federal court to remove the Ten Commandments monument. Both thought the lower court's ruling was wrong, both appealed, and both lost their appeal. Both then continued to defy the court order. I have no doubt that Moore, as I assume Miller does, believes that he was justified by some higher good in refusing to comply.

I don't buy it though, and as long as Miller continues to defy the order, she should be incarcerated and subject to steep fines that even the NYT, if it chose to reimburse her, would balk at paying -- i.e., drive her well into bankruptcy.

jeff said...

Because we keep equating journalists with "a free press."

Actually I think the Blogosphere comes closer to the ideal free press.

jeff said...


If she didn't reveal it, but Bob Novak did, has he said how he found out about it?

Did Miller tell Novak? Fill me in here - I'm apparently missing a few dots to connect together in this case...

She had the info, right? How did this grand jury find out she had the info?

Slac said...

It may have been noble to go to jail as a prisoner of conscience a long time ago, but the nature of jailing has changed. My sister was a prison guard for a while and she repeatedly mentioned how easy life is for inmates.

You know this person will rake in dough and write five books.

But you're right, Ann, the Judge used a bad metaphor. We should not compare children to criminals. Calling someone "childish" is just as hurtful and prejudiced towards children as "nigger" is towards blacks, if not moreso.

Unknown said...

I have no idea how the Grand Jury found out she had info. But it's irrelevant. A journalist should not have to reveal their sources.

If they DO start to reveal their sources, guess who's going to get hurt? The American people. Why? Because nobody is going to reveal confidential information to journalists anymore. And the American people will never find out about certain pieces of information anymore.

You might care not care, because you think the New York Times is liberal, and therefore everyone who works for that paper is evil. A very simplistic, childlike mentality if you ask me.

But you might care, when information about, oh, let's say a President having an affair with an intern, is no longer reported, because people are afraid to leak the info anonymously to a journalist, for fear of being exposed.

Patrick said...

Willingness to go to jail is submission to the law.

I'd like to see some elaboration on that idea. I would agree that a willingness to go to jail is what separates genuine civil disobedience from the faux version so much in recent vogue. But it is my impression that the law of contempt does not offer compliance and jail as the contemnor's lawful options; rather, compliance is the only lawful option, and going "willingly" to jail for refusing the court's lawful order constitutes "submission to the law" only in the same sense that it would in the context of one who pleads guilty to robbery.

Freeman Hunt said...

But you might care, when information about, oh, let's say a President having an affair with an intern

And such information would be classified how?

If you leak information that is classified, you should not be protected as a source since the act of you sharing the information is a crime.

(Though at the same time, I must say that it's hard to "out" someone who's posed in Vanity Fair with her husband.)

Contributors said...

Oh, Lad relax,

We're not talking about revealing sources.

We're talking about revealing who outted a CIA agent. It's a crime.

You get the distinction, right? Cuz it's an important one.

Revealing Clinton had an affair with Lewinsky is NOT a crime. Even though Newsweek sat on that well sourced story as though it was but rushed the phony Koran flushing story.

I think you're calling the wrong people hypocrites.

#1 duty of govt is to protect it's people. People who out CIA agents should be in jail, not protected by a sanctimonius newspaper hiding behind a non-existent priviledge.

Freeman Hunt said...

Also I would like to note that I don't think journalists should have any special privileges whatsoever. They are (and have proven themselves to be) no better and no more interested in truth than other American citizens. Any privileges extended to them must be extended to all.

Contributors said...

The important thing is that a New York Times reporter is in jail.

What say we all take a moment from debating the why and how and just sit back and enjoy the outcome?

AHHhhhhh... Our chances of winning this war just went up a notch.

Anonymous said...

Ann is correct in on one level about Miller's willingness to go to jail as submission to the law. From what I infer, accordingly to this theory, the law did not compel her to disclose her source, but merely gave her a choice, either comply with the court's order, or suffer the consequences, and Miller has chosen option 2. It is akin to the theory of efficient breach of contract: when you enter into a contract, you really are only promising to either fulfill your obligations or pay damages. Non-submission to the law in Miller's case would have been to choose a legally unavailable option, such as going into hiding to avoid jail, or fleeing to another country to avoid the legal consequences of her decision.

However, under that theory, any criminal who confesses and accepts punishment after the fact could be described as "submitting" to the law. Even a criminal who does not confess or accept his punishment, but merely does not attempt to escape from prison could be described as "submitting" to the law. (I know that Miller has not been convicted of anything, but it is just an analogy.)

Unknown said...

You guys don't get it. Do you think the person who leaked the info to Ms. Miller thought they were committing a crime? I doubt it.

Actions by the government such as this will stop people from leaking lots of other info, because people will no longer trust journalists. Why would I give info to a Time reporter, even if it's perfectly legal, if the Time Reporter betrayed the faith of their prior confidants.

Would you trust Time magazine to keep your identity private? If you do, you are a fool and I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Kathleen B. said...

I think it is so funny that so many commenters here are happy that an NYT reporter is going to jail, ostenibly since the NYT is such a "liberal rag," when it was Judith Miller in the pages of the NYT who sounded a long and steady drum beat to that war in Iraq that you all love so much, based upon comments by our favorite source Ahmed Chalabi among others. a drum beat that has been proven false. not that Judith Miller or the Times took any fall for that. Oh the irony.

Patrick said...


I wouldn't, and shouldn't, trust TIME to keep my identity a secret if faced with a court order to reveal it. TIME doesn't have any more right to defy a court order than an elected official, a corporate official, or any other citizen. If the difference between "I will never reveal your identity" and "I will never reveal your identity in the absence of a fully appealed court order" kills a story, then the story dies. Elsewise, we have the rule of journalists rather than the rule of law.

Unknown said...

Patrick - Which means that people are going to start keeping this information to themselves. Which means YOU will never find out about it.

That doesn't bother you at all? It bothers me a great deal.

Have you even paid attention to this story? Did you look at the information that Novak revealed? I think it was quite interesting. It showed that the man who supposedly revealed that there was no Yellowcake in Africa, actually could have been compromised.

That info is actually quite useful. And I, for one, am glad that info became public. I really couldn't care less if a CIA identity was revealed. Tough. That CIA operative may have compromised national security. Damn right her identity should be made public.

Unlike you, I don't trust the government to decide what information I'm allowed to read and what I can't.

leeontheroad said...

Geez, let's not confuse ourselves with any facts, eh?

Miller didn't even write Plame story. Bob Novak first "broke" the Plame-is-a-NOC story. Saying the "out the Noc" story is ABOUT the NYT is merely convenient for drumbeat critics of liberal MSM.

But IF the story is about reporters using unnamed sources, please do tar Novak with the same brush as Miller. A difference between Miller and Novak is that Miller got a phone call but-- never having used that info-- didn't reveal any "national security" information.

Then note that Novak is not speaking to the press about the case. If Novak isn't on the wrong side of the prosecutor, I think it safe to suggest that Novak gave up the info.

So why has no one been charged? It could be because the law as written requires you KNOW you committed a crime and assumes the revealer has the security clearance level to know Plame was a NOC, assuming she was. Indeed, if the source was Rove-- speculation only-- he likely can't be charged, becaus ehe likely doesn't have the clearance to know for certain she was a NOC.

Seems byzantine to me. Folks do stuff wrong-- that may or may not have had intelligence sources hanging from cables in Pakistan. But it's the one who doesn't write a story who goes to jail.

In any case, the MIller story is about principle, exactly BECAUSE Miller didn't reveal in print what she heard from the unnamed source. (Maybe she'd had enough of the previously unnamed Curveball as a single source on Iraqi WMD). A number of state legislatures have enacted that principle in law.

Patrick said...

DTL --
You're jumping to a lot of unwarranted conclusions about my opinions and beliefs. I didn't say that I want the government to control the flow of information; I merely said that TIME is obliged to obey the law and is not exempted simply because it is in the information business. If this case results in a change in the law, then all to the good. And I do respect the use of civil disobedience as a tool to agitate for a change in the law. But as the law stands now, a journalist's promise of confidentiality cannot be absolute, but must yield to a federal grand jury's investigation of a possible federal crime. That is not a recent development, and I can't say that I regard society as patently unreasonable for arranging its priorities that way, though I might arrange them differently. What I can say is that news organizations don't get to make up their own rules about such things just because they're news organizations.

I'm never happy when I don't get to know things I'm curoius about, but I think the rule against disclosing the identities of covert CIA agents is a good one, and I don't think anyone, ESPECIALLY a government official, should be able to violate that rule with impunity simply by being careful to disclose only to the very people who are best positioned to disseminate the secret widely.

Beldar said...

Prof. Althouse, you wrote: "There being no federal journalist's privilege, the judge had to punish Miller ...."

Okay, then, you, I, Judge Hogan, and a unanimous three-judge panel of the DC Circuit are all on record as agreeing that Judith Miller is a scofflaw who has willfully defied a valid order of a proper court having jurisdiction over both her and the subject matter. (The en banc DC Circuit and Supreme Court also declined to make a contrary ruling, but let's give Ms. Miller the benefit of the doubt by recognizing those as rulings not on the merits.)

"[H]er grand gesture" is by definition one of defying the law. We agree on that, do we not?

Every other reporter and press organization involved in this controversy has made the opposite decision to Ms. Miller's (as supported and subsidized by her employer, the NYT).

The only principle she can be trying to adhere to is her "right" -- not a legal one, we all agree, for the law provides no such right -- to ignore the release concededly granted by her source that frees her from her original promise of confidentiality, based on her sole, subjective determination that the release was coerced and invalid.

Nevertheless, you see in that defiance of the law, and that nonconformance with the actions of every other reporter and news organization involved, and that insistance on following her own assessment of someone else's free will over his/her own assessment, some sort of "dignity."

How is that dignity distinguishable from psychosis?

Surely it is not her subjective sincerity that gives her dignity; Timothy McVeigh was almost certainly as subjectively sincere in his beliefs until the moment that the lethal chemicals flowed through his veins. Is her dignity the same as his?

Judge Hogan and the unanimous three-judge panel of the DC Circuit -- including the sole judge thereupon who agreed that the federal courts ought to craft a shield law comparable to the statutes passed by many states -- all agreed that the prosecution's showing of need and exhaustion of alternatives here would have been sufficient to overcome any qualified privilege. Does her dignity come, then, from submitting to incarceration in order to promote the creation of a new rule of law that would not have kept her out of jail?

Having failed to persuade any of the dozens of federal judges who've looked at her contempt citation that Ms. Miller ought not be jailed, Ms. Miller's superb attorneys had just filed papers asking with a straight face that she serve her sentence at home. She asked to be grounded -- a punishment that parents impose upon defiant and rulebreaking children. There is "dignity" in that?

Ms. Miller is in fact acting like a selfish, spoiled, petulant child. I can't quite blame the judge at whom her contempt has been focus for saying so. I see no legitimate principle at stake; I see no dignity. I refuse to even impliedly condone her lawlessness or to impliedly encourage others to emulate her defiance by pretending that there's anything at all noble in what she's done or what she's doing.

I respectfully dissent.

Unknown said...

But as the law stands now, a journalist's promise of confidentiality cannot be absolute, but must yield to a federal grand jury's investigation of a possible federal crime.

Bullshit. The law says nothing about what a journalist has to reveal. Of course there might be consequences for not revealing info, such as jailtime, but the government can not prevent a journalist from promising confidentiality. If a journalist promises confidentiality, then they should stand by their word. It is called a promise after all. Even if it means that the journalist has to go to jail. Bob Novak said as much in his columns, when he said that he would never compromise a source's identity. No real journalist would.

Time Magazine already has, which means they are not real journalists in my book. And that periodical will now suffer bigtime.

Judith Miller has stood by her word. She's going to have more respect than ever. And I suspect that if anyone ever has any confidential information of critical importance, she's going to be the top choice of which reporters to go to when people want to get some info public.

John said...

Patrick: I'd like to see some elaboration on that idea.

Thanks, Thom, for sharing the interesting analogy to "efficient breach of contract."

A different explanation, from Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail: "One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."

John said...

Beldar: Ms. Miller is in fact acting like a selfish, spoiled, petulant child.

Since no child asks to be grounded, I don't think it is childish or spoiled to choose to be jailed for one's principles. It's possible Miller has chosen her principles misguidedly, in which case her punishment is correct. But her acceptance of that punishment does not bring her dishonor.

Ann Althouse said...

John: Thanks for reprinting the King quote. Let me add a link to Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience." And here are some more civil disobedience links.

Patrick said...

Sigh. Nothing I like better than an interlocutor who expresses disagreement with grace and erudition.

The law says what a journalist must reveal in exactly the same sense that it says that I or anyone else must testify, and do so truthfully, if called as a witness at a trial or before a grand jury. It is true that the law lacks the raw power to compel me to speak, but that does not mean that I may lawfully refuse to testify provided that I'm willing to go to jail. And the law cares not whether I have promised, say, the bank robber that I will never identify him. The question is whether there's any legal basis for treating journalists differently, and as far as I can see, there's not.

Unknown said...

The question is whether there's any legal basis for treating journalists differently, and as far as I can see, there's not.

Actually, there are laws that protect journalists in 49 states. Unfortunately, there is not one at the Federal level. I think it's quite obvious to most observers that there is now a need for one.

Patrick said...

John and Prof. Althouse:

First, my last comment was directed at the "Bullshit" guy, not you two. Sorry if there was confusion.

I think the MLK quote and Thoreau explain why civil disobedience is justified and in fact shows respect for the law as an institution; I agree with all that. My earlier query concerned the use of the phrase "submission to the law" to describe what Miller did. To me (and I think to Thoreau and King as well) civil disobedience consists precisely of refusing to submit to a law perceived as unjust. I don't see how a willing acceptance of punishment for refusal to submit to the law can be characterized as submission to the law, except, as I said, in the sense of a guilty plea. Prof. Althouse seemed to be suggesting that Ms. Miller simply chose from among her lawful options by electing to go to jail, but perhaps I misunderstood her.

Beldar said...

Contending that the current law is "unjust" implies that some other law -- one that the protester is trying to promote by his civil disobedience -- would be just.

But nothing short of an abolute, unqualified, and unwaivable privilege would have kept Judith Miller out of jail. No state has, or has ever had, such a law. No serious journalist (however defined) argues for one. No such privilege exists in any other area of the law.

Whatever the merits of existing or prospective shield laws creating qualified privileges for the "press" in general, this particular case says nothing about those merits.

For this to be legitimate civil disobedience, one must embrace the proposition that reporters are entirely above and outside the law.

Ann Althouse said...

Patrick: I'm the one that started using the expression "submission to the law" on this thread. I agree that there is a more abjectly total "submission to the law" that involves dutifully following all the officially enacted law. Some of the worst evils in the history of the world have been done in this mode. It is important for people to retain their sense of morality. That doesn't mean each person can pick and choose which laws to follow, but it does justify some civil disobedience, which is part of one very effective way to try to change the law. It involves no violence or direct harm to others. When done openly and honestly with the consequences accepted, this is a kind of submission to the law, a different kind, to be sure, but it is a valuable form of political action that history shows to be worthy of honor. We may disagree about whether protecting news sources deserves civil disobedience -- the way slavery and segregation did -- but Miller is carefully placing herself in that tradition and is not part of the forces of chaos that I abhor as much as you do.

Patrick said...

Prof. Althouse,
That was exactly the sort of elaboration I was looking for, and in light of it I entirely agree with you. I don't think I would use the phrase "submission to the law" in your latter, non-abject sense, but of course that's just a difference in usage, not in meaning. Thanks for the claarification.

Ann Althouse said...

Patrick: Thanks for agreeing with me!

bos0x said...

Beldar: Nothing in that article suggests that Judith Miller is psychotic or anything like Timothy McVeigh. I can see how you were confused though, as both crimes are very similar - Miller is nonviolent and being jailed, and McVeigh killed 168 people and coincidentally also went to jail. Or at least until the lethal chemicals flowed through his veins (imagery that sent delightful chills coursing down my spine, by the way, much like Judge Hogan's poignant tale of children who eat cookies in a disrespectful manner). But really, I thought that psychosis had something to do with suffering halluciations and paranoid delusions, not holding an opinion unpopular with the readers of the Althouse blog. Normally, that is disrespectful dissent and also namecalling (which children often do LOL!OLOL), but I suppose that anything sounds respectful when written in that wordy, pretentious style with lots of bold tags.

Patrick: The use of "bullshit" was totally out of line, I agree. downtownlad should have used a more civil and pretty word that adds elegance and drama to any conversation, like "erudition." Opa!

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

Correct me if I am off base, but, hasn't everyone involved, including Novak and Rove, talked to appropriate authorities, and hasn't every individual source waived confidentiality, so why is Miller holding out?

For long term principal or immediate principle?

Kathleen B.:

Maybe Republican's desire to see Miller jailed despite her efforts on non-existent WMD shows a certain level of principle on their part, as conservatives are more concerned at getting to the bottom of this even if it might hurt the administration (which it won't, but we do want the truth).

(Did you use a "yay" back at me in the other post?... that is soooo wrong)

vnjagvet said...


While from past experience, I know Beldar is perfectly capable of deftly warding off snarkiness, I respectfully disagree that he was implying that Ms. Miller is a cruel murderer like Mr. McVeigh clearly was.

His point was that both Mr. McVeigh and Ms. Miller subjectively believed they were right in doing what they did even though, in both cases, based on objective standards, after being accorded full due process of law, the courts found they were wrong.

I do not believe you met his argument fairly, although you certainly are at least as colorful in your imagery as he is in his.

I think also that the facts do not support Ms. Miller's confidence in her position. We will know soon enough, though.

Jim Rhoads (vnjagvet)

Beldar said...

bos0x, "psychosis" is the inability to distinguish between what's real and what's imaginary. Psychotics often believe that they are the only ones who can see particular dangers, and that it's everyone else's perception of the real world which is flawed.

I pointed out that none of the other reporters or press organizations have perceived their professional duties as requiring them to follow the path Ms. Miller has chosen. I pointed out that she insists that she knows better than her source whether he truly wants to preserve his own identity as confidential. I pointed out that the various types of qualified privileges created by state shield laws would not have immunized her, so there's no connection between the arguable need for such laws and her own conduct.

The only quality that I suggested Ms. Miller might share with Timothy McVeigh was the degree of sincerity with which they believe in their respective (concededly very different) "causes" and the intensity of their self-justification. And I'm not a physician, I don't know Ms. Miller, and I'm not trying to render a formal medical diagnosis as to her state of mind. But my question wasn't entirely rhetorical. Ms. Miller is obviously out of step with both the law and the rest of her profession. She seems to believe that she lives in a world where her individual conscience and judgment as a journalist must trump everything and everyone else. It seems to me that that is not the reality the rest of us are living in. She seems to me to believe that she ought to have godlike immunity from the legal consequences of her actions.

So what evidence can you point to in order to show that she — she alone among all her colleagues who've chosen not to defy the law — does correctly and accurately perceive reality? How do you distinguish between her and everyone else who just really, really, super-sincerely believe that their unlawful conduct is somehow "justified" (including all those whom the psychiatrists all agree are psychotic in the strict medical sense)? I ask not because I'm convinced that she is psychotic, but because I genuinely do not know how to distinguish her from those who definitely are.

My boldface tags and wordy, pretentious style aside — can you answer my questions, bos0x? (Or can our esteemed host, to whom they were originally put in my best effort to use a respectful tone?)

Slac said...

I'm surprised at how many people persisted in using words like "childish" and "childlike" to denigrate people whie ignoring my comment.

Doesn't anyone think that using children as a metaphor for stupidity is prejudiced against children?

ploopusgirl said...

Why, yes it's prejudiced against children, slac. However, everyone's probably trying to come up with a properly respectful response to your claim that "childish" is equally or more prejudiced and offensive than "nigger." Ignorance in its finest form, that.

bos0x said...

Cooper identified his source because he claimed to have "personal" permission from her source. Later in the article, the Times states that Miller did not have the same kind of permission, which means that her situation is different from that of her colleagues and that she is not ignoring the wishes of her source. If you mean that she is ignoring the waivers that she was given, Cooper and "other journalists" (whoever those are) also argue against the validity of the waivers. Apparently, if Miller does live in her own reality, Cooper and other journalists are there with her. They must be psychotic too, right?

Isn't it your place to find evidence supporting your theory of Miller's psychosis? I simply don't see how you could accuse her of having severe mental illness by reading an article in which she is directly quoted only three times. Also, what do you mean that you can't distinguish Miller from people who are psychotic? Didn't you just open your comment by instructing me in its definition? I'll help you though - people with psychosis often hallucinate and sometimes are paranoid or delusional. Miller's opinions were clearly stated and are apparently shared by the New York Times as well as others. She speaks of her idea of a fair press, not of her individual persecution. Maybe she is mentally ill, but it is impossible to tell from the article. If you want to continue to think that she has psychosis, it's your own bias.

While McVeigh believed that his unlawful conduct was justified, he killed 168 people with a truck bomb. Those who cause death and injury to hundreds of innocents who have absolutely nothing to do with the cause in question generally are not given very favorable Constitutional rights. On the other hand, Miller is refusing to name her source. The situation that she is a part of now is directly relevant to her cause - freedom of press. Nonviolent civil disobedience has a history of sometimes getting things done. I don't think that the similarities are extreme enough to justify the namedropping.

Jim: kthxs for the warning? Or something.

Slac said...

What can I say, ploopusgirl, if not that the ageism we commit against children seems like it's the last prejudice we'll ever notice, nay be strong enough to face.

Once upon a time, "nigger" was not seen as much of an offensive word as a description of property. It's total offensive denotation was nonetheless imminent. Similarly, you seem to see the word "childish" as more descriptive than offensive, but the magnitude of its offense is not apparent to you yet. You rationalize using it in the same way a slave owner once rationalized the use of the word "nigger," as an empirically accurate debasement of human life.

I hope you're not surprised to see me bounce back your claim and say that you are the ignorant one. But I can scarcely blame you personally. Most of your sentiment is necessary to interact in our zeitgeist.

Thank you for at least acknowledging that it's prejudiced towards children, though. This goes almost entirely unnoticed. I don't think I could have many qualms with you if you at least agree on that. I still say it sometimes without noticing it...

Please feel free to email me through my profile if you want to discuss this more in depth than the comments section will allow.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am having a problem with everyone who has a problem with this. I fail to see why "reporters" should have an absolute privilege against revealing their sources to a grand jury upon demand. Why are they different from you or me, or, for example, the blogger, such as Ann, who might have a secret source?

One obvious problem is that the definition of a "reporter" is nebulous. Is she a reporter because she worked for the NYT? Well, what about if she worked for Drudge? After all, he was the one who broke the Lewinski scandal. Well, how about bloggers? Is the requirement that they have broken a big story?

If there were a qualified federal immunity, would that have gotten her off? Apparently not, as the prosecutor has apparently shown that he can't get the information elsewhere (which, IMHO, makes sense, as who else would know who discloed the information to her?).

The other problem I see with giving her absolute immunity is that the crime apparently being pursued right now is most likely either perjury or obstruction of justice. In other words, someone may have lied to the FBI, and the independant prosecutor is trying to get them.

This is why the whole idea of privilege fails here. The evidence of perjury or obstruction of justice is most likely precisely the identity of the person leaking to the reporter.

In other words, what is most likely happening right now is that the independant prosecutor has reason to believe that the leaker lied to the FBI about leaking the information. He may not know who the leaker is yet, but knows that someone lied. Or he may have reason to believe that a certain individual lied, but wants coroboration.

The other alternative, IMHO less likely, is that the leaker may be different from the Novak leaker, or the prosecutor needs to verify that they are the same person. In this case, the prosecutor needs to know whether or not the leaker broke the law by releasing classified information.

In either case though, it is likely that the prosecutor is investigating whether the actual leaker committed a crime. And by protecting her source, the reporter is potentially covering up that crime.

Bruce Hayden said...

Those on the left here seem to be ignoring some inconvenient facts in this case, i.e.

- By now, it is probable that no crime was actually committed by the actual outing of Plame. The requirements for the potential crime of outing a CIA operative are fairly strict, and, most notably, Novak seems to be in the clear. Note also that Novak did not state that she was undercover, but rather that she was a CIA employee. Big difference.

- I should add that Novak was the one who was doing the actual investigative journalism, and got the "scoop" - that Wilson's posting was to a great extent a result of actions by his CIA employeed wife. This was a legitimate question - how could an Democratic partisan get such a sensitive posting?

- If any one originally leaked classified information, that is potentially a crime. Protecting the source of that is protecting the identity of the potential criminal. How can you prosecute this sort of crime if you can't identify the criminal? Novak and the other reporters are most likely clear here, but maybe not someone with an appropriate security clearance leaking the information.

- But most likely by now, by all indications, the investigation has moved into tying up loose ends - which in this case may include prosecuting people who lied to the FBI about disclosing information, even if it wasn't a crime to disclose it. In other words, obstruction of justice or perjury.

Beldar said...

bos0x, I'll repeat — just one more time — that I'm not accusing Ms. Miller of being psychotic. I have no "theory of Miller psychosis."

Rather, I asked how her (or Prof. Althouse's) claim that Ms. Miller is engaging in a justifiable act of civil disobedience can be distinguished from the identical claims made by people who are psychotic. My point is not that she is psychotic; my point is that some wicked, dangerous psychotic people (my example was McVeigh) also are really, really sincere in their belief that their being punished is unjust. Sincerity by itself, no matter how intense, is not enough to justify anyone's claim that they are engaged in admirable civil disobedience.

So what else besides sincerity is required?

Well, there's the traditional justification for civil disobedience. That's when the purported practicer of noble civil disobedience can articulate a proposed change in an existing unjust law so that in the future, persons engaging in the same conduct won't have to be punished. That's Dr. King, for example, jailed for conspiring to incite blacks to violate Montgomery's segregated bus ordinances. But — and I apologize for again repeating myself — that traditional justification doesn't apply to Judith Miller. A federal equivalent to the state shield laws wouldn't have saved Judith Miller from jail; and no one (save her and the NYT) appears to be arguing that the law will be unjust unless and until it provides an absolute, unqualified, unwaivable privilege unique to reporters and subject to validation or testing by them alone.

So if Ms. Miller can't claim the traditional justification for civil disobedience, and if her sincerity alone is an insufficient justification, then on what other basis can her disobedience be justified?

Explain how my premises are wrong, please, or answer the question I've asked that is based on those premises.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't have the time at this point to engage with all the arguments that are being raised here, but I do want to emphasize that I've never taken a position -- in all of this! -- on whether Judith Miller made the right call that this was a matter that justified civil disobedience or whether if there were a federal statutory reporter's privilege it ought to cover the situation in Miller's case. I've been speaking at a fairly high level of abstraction about the respectability of civil disobedience and the need for a federal statute. Beldar is asking questions on a different level, which I haven't taken a position on. I would have to study the problem in much more depth to want to respond to all of this.

Please look carefully at what I have said and don't simply assume -- maybe because you feel passionate about something -- that I am on the other side.

Beldar said...

Prof. Althouse, thank you very much for the civil and articulate reply here (and as reposted in the comments on my own blog).

Re-reading my last comment here, I see that it may appear that I was more or less demanding that you (as opposed to your commenter bos0x) answer the questions I posed. I apologize for that; I don't think a blogger is obliged to respond to questions posed by readers in his/her comments. (For that matter, bos0x isn't obliged either.)

I also very much appreciate your clarification. I drew the inference from your original post — mostly from the "dignity" and "grand gesture" terms that you applied specifically to Ms. Miller — that you were indeed taking at least an implicit position on whether her disobedience to Judge Hogan's order was justified on grounds that the law which prompted that order is unjust. And you're absolutely right that I have very strong views about that, and a very strong aversion to the sort of mushy invocations of the First Amendment and need for a watchdog press that I believe Ms. Miller and the NYT (as for example in this editorial) are peddling. If other readers also drew the same inference about the scope of your views that I did, your clarification ought to be accepted by us all as setting the record straight about your views (or non-views). Again, my thanks, and my compliments.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Beldar. I meant phrase "grand gesture" ambiguously. It can be taken as riding the person for being grandiose.