July 8, 2005


A Prosecutor Who Didn't Back Down: Patrick J. Fitzgerald pushed for the jailing of two reporters who refused to testify. Legal observers disagree on whether he was right. (Stephen Braun, July 8, 2005, LA Times)

Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald lived up to his billing as a hard-nosed U.S. attorney when he pressed for the jailing of a reporter who refused to testify in his investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name. But his action just as likely was spurred by the unique fact-finding mission given special prosecutors, legal observers and those who have worked with Fitzgerald in the past said Thursday.

The imprisonment Wednesday of New York Times reporter Judith Miller for failing to testify before a grand jury served to aid Fitzgerald's probe, several lawyers said.

It showed the targets of his inquiry that he meant business. A second reporter, Time magazine's Matthew Cooper, agreed to testify after also being threatened with jail. Cooper said he had been prepared to go to jail but that his source called him at the last minute to release him from his confidentiality pledge.

Even if Fitzgerald's investigation fails to produce any indictments, said Andrew C. McCarthy, a former prosecutor who is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Fitzgerald, he said, "has to show he investigated the case in a fair and comprehensive manner." So Fitzgerald's move against Miller and Cooper allows him to show that he took all available measures to get at the truth.

When Democrats and the press tried to make a scandal of the Palme affair they didn't mean that getting to the truth should include themselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 8, 2005 12:00 AM

Press: "The eeeevil Bush/Cheney/Rove/Haliburton/Enron cabal leaked Valerie Plame's identity to punish her husband for going to Niger and proving that there were no WMD in Iraq!"

Rest of us: "Huh?"

Press: "We need a special prosecutor to find the identity of the leaker! We dare the government to appoint one. Triple dog dare 'em!"

Government: "Hokay! He's appointed."

Prosecutor: "Well, Mr. Press, seeing as the leaker talked to you--that's what a 'leak' is, after all--maybe you can tell us who he is."

Press: "Never!"

Prosecutor: "That means you're in contempt of court. Go directly to jail. Do not pass 'Go,' . . . ah, you know the drill."

Press: "But . . . but . . . but . . ."

Posted by: Mike Morley at July 8, 2005 7:50 AM