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Right Intention: Oh, The Irony

Friday, February 18, 2005

Oh, The Irony

What goes around comes around. The latest on the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame investigation:

Miller and Cooper, who are refusing to reveal their sources in a federal investigation, have hit the talk-show circuit as anguished defenders of the First Amendment and of the media's watchdog role. They are quite sincere about that. But they would actually be going to jail partly to provide after-the-fact vindication for an absurd media feeding frenzy about a non-crime that journalists relentlessly hyped to hurt the Bush administration.

Journalists want sympathy for something they've done to themselves. You're breakin' my heart. Boo Hoo.

I love this next part:

Cue the caterwauling. The media and Democrats were wracked by spasms of outrage. The Bush administration was punishing Wilson by outing his wife and putting her life at risk! It had violated a law against exposing covert agents! The scandal was Watergate, Iran-Contra and every other -gate wrapped up into one (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the administration's conduct came "perilously close to treason")! The administration must, must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate! Now!

Well, the press and President Bush critics got what they wanted -- good and hard. The special prosecutor in the case, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, has done what special prosecutors usually do, namely trample all over any sense of proportion. He has subpoenaed various journalists, including Miller and Cooper, who have refused to reveal their sources. They are now in contempt of court.

Tears are streaming down my face. From laughter.

A much simpler, more obvious argument is available to the defense -- that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act that was supposedly violated in this case wasn't. The act establishes an extremely high standard for a criminal violation -- the agent in question has to be undercover (Plame wasn't), and the leaker has to know she was undercover and be intentionally trying to undermine U.S. intelligence (very, very unlikely).

But the Miller/Cooper defense hasn't made this argument, probably because it would be so embarrassing. You mean to say, after months of chest-beating, the Bush administration's crime of the century wasn't even a crime? It was just a Washington flap played for all it was worth by the same news organizations now about to watch their employees go to prison over it? That's the truth that the media will go to any length to avoid.

It's not every day that one can witness such a perfect example of irony. I have zero- and I mean zero- sympathy. Don't drop the soap in the shower, guys.


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