Thursday, June 30, 2005

Why isn't Robert Novak in danger of going to jail???

Bradley, over at "A Little Bit Left" points out that Time magazine will now be handing over some reporter's notes in the now infamous case of Valerie Plame, the CIA operative who's cover was blown in a column by CNN's Robert Novak.

Please read Bradley's post and the accompanying article from the Washington Post for details on today's decision, and the case in general.

What has always confused me, is "Why is Robert Novak seemingly not at risk of jail time in all of this?". I mean, one of the reporters the government is going after never even published a story about this issue!!! But Novak, who's article it was that "outed" Plame has never, to my knowledge, been before a court over this. The conclusion would seem to be that Novak co-operated with authorities, and that's why he wasn't charged, but then, if he co-operated, then why are they still going after the other reporters (i.e. had Novak named names, then prosecutors would already have the names!)

Novak's own recent comments (such as they are) are also interesting (and cryptic).

From the Post article linked to above:

Novak has refused to comment on whether he cooperated with Fitzgerald (the special prosecutor in the case). Yesterday, in an interview on CNN's "Inside Politics," Novak said he is still barred from talking about the investigation but said he will write about it when it ends. He said he thinks the facts will surprise people.
"I deplore the thought of reporters -- I've been a reporter all my life -- going to jail for any period of time for not revealing sources." he said. "They are not going to jail because of me . . . and those people who say that don't know anything about the case."

Now, I'm not one to take Robert Novak of all people at his word, but as much as I disagree with his politics, he does strike me as a sort-of "old school" reporter, who really would view this as a matter of principle, and not want reporters going to jail for not revealing their sources.

The case is also complex, because while normally it would be absolutely clear to me that a reporter should not be asked to reveal a confidential source, in this case the source speaking to a reporter at all was, in itself a crime (making the reporter a witness to that crime, at the very least). And, of course, we're not talking about shoplifting here. While I hesitate to view this particular case as rising to the level of treason (Plame was "under-cover", but it's not like she was wearing a fake mustache, and working in the Syrian embassy when the story came out..) but nonetheless, publicly revealing the name of one of your country's under-cover agents does sound like a pretty treasonous act, doesn't it? So it is a serious crime of which someone (?) is being accused.

We haven't heard the last of this story, I'm sure, and I look forward to hearing Novak's view of the whole mess... (in the mean time, anyone have some reliable gossip on just how he fits in all of this???)

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