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55 Days

The following is the complete text of an editorial from today's New York Times ... and spare me any talk of the "liberal media" because the irony is that Ms. Miller may well be protecting an administration source that should be revealed as the individual who revealed the identity of a covert CIA operative.
But this is not the way to get this information. Not in this country. We don't jail individuals for something like this in our country. Honest to God, with all we've seen in the past five years under this administration, if statues could cry, Lady Liberty would be sobbing.

Free Judy Miller
The New York Times reporter Judith Miller has now been in jail longer for refusing to testify than any reporter working for a newspaper in America. It is a very long time for her, for her newspaper and for the media. And with each dismal milestone, it becomes more apparent that having her in jail is an embarrassment to a country that is supposed to be revered around the world for its freedoms, especially its First Amendment that provides freedom of the press. Ms. Miller, who went to jail rather than testify in an investigation into the disclosure of an undercover agent's identity, has been in a Virginia jail 55 days as of today.

Last week a Paris-based journalists' organization called Reporters Without Borders sent around an impressive petition in support of Ms. Miller. It was signed by prominent European writers, journalists and thinkers including Günter Grass, Bernard-Henri Lévy, the French philosopher, and Pedro Almodóvar, the Spanish filmmaker. The text should be required reading for the judge, the prosecutor and the White House. "At a time when the most extremist ideas are gaining ground, and when growing numbers of reporters are being killed or taken hostage, arresting a journalist in a democratic country is more than a crime: it's a miscarriage of justice," they wrote.

That was only the latest of the petitions in support of Ms. Miller that have been pouring in from Americans like Bob Dole, the former Senate majority leader, and people outside the United States. In one particularly poignant case, reporters in Pakistan - Pakistan, mind you - took time out from their own battles to send messages of support.

It's time for the authorities who jailed Ms. Miller to recognize that continued incarceration is not going to sway a reporter who believes she is making a principled sacrifice. As Jack Nelson, a veteran journalist for The Los Angeles Times, wrote recently: "Without leaks, without anonymity for some sources, a free press loses its ability to act as a check and a balance against the power of government." He cited Watergate, Iran-contra and President Bill Clinton's lies about Monica Lewinsky. If Judith Miller loses this fight, we all lose. This is not about Judith Miller or The Times or the outing of one C.I.A. agent. The jailing of this reporter is about the ability of a free press in America to do its job.


Blogger katiedid said...

Good lord, that persnickety and fussy Gunter Grass would petition paint to dry faster. Not that he doesn't have some good causes here and there, it's just... he always strikes me as so upright and uptight about frigging everything.

I still reflect back on the post Tania made on her blog about Miller. I still think that a precedent should not be started here with keeping her behind bars.

This is the first I've heard of the petition, thanks M!

12:49 PM

Blogger mireille said...

I do still agree that there could be some sort of journalistic act of contrition going on, on Miller's part, for any role she had in helping the administration speed us into war ... but her act of contrition should clearly not be connected to the shredding of the First Amendment.

1:06 PM

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Yeah. What you said.

1:15 PM

Blogger katiedid said...

Precisely M, although you articulated it much better than I :)

cmfba - well, huh. If you say each of the letters outloud it sounds dirrrrty. See 'em eff B.A. I hope I don't have to expicitly say what B.A. stands for (think moon.)

2:40 PM

Blogger red-queen said...

meanwhile, Karl Rove has suffered no repercussions whatsoever for his act of treason in leaking a CIA agent's identity.

7:00 AM

Blogger Tania said...

Her story is so screwed up, your eyes cross thinking about it. She shouldn't be in jail. She also shouldn't have been such a tool of the Administration. Lots of shouldn'ts. But certainly she shouldn't be in jail. Only when she's out can she be properly shouted down by all and sundry for being such a bad reporter, without this distracting martyrdom getting in the way.

I know, I get more cynical about her by the second. But, to twist Voltaire to my own purposes, I may not agree with her reporting, but I will blog to the death for her right to carry on with it.

Sort of. Unless that involves her involvement in some nefarious conspiracy.

Really, the whole thing is ugly every which way.

2:06 PM


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