Friday, September 30, 2005


E&P on Judith Miller’s release:
Judy refused to testify in this case because she gave her professional word that she would keep her interview with her source confidential. At the outset, she had only a generic waiver of this obligation, and she believed she had ample reason to doubt it had been freely given. In recent days, several important things have changed that convinced Judy that she was released from her obligation.

People come up to me on the street all the time and ask me “Doctor Biobrain, could you please give me a good example of bullshit.” Well, this is it kids. Bullshit of the highest order. Because lets face it, this wasn’t the case of a rogue whistleblower or modern-day Deepthroat giving the goods on their boss, or anyone in position to do them harm. If anyone was wronged here, it was Joseph Wilson and his wife; and possibly the CIA. But none of them were in any position to punish the people who spoke with Miller.

And isn’t that the whole point of this confidentiality stuff? To protect people. But it’s not supposed to be some kind of freedom to blab nasty stuff about people, or special cover to out personal secrets. If that was all that it was ever about, I’d say we chunk the damn thing. But it’s not about that. It’s about providing cover for people who need it. It’s about getting to truths that need to be told, but can’t be. Otherwise, you could just start a crime wave with reporters, and they’d never have to testify against one another.

Waivering Fools

But there’s something even bigger going on here. According to Judy, she was given a waiver from Libby to speak. But she just didn’t think he meant it, and that it had been coerced. But who did the coercing? Someone in a position of power who would want to punish the source? Because that’s why you’d worry about the coercion. Because you wouldn’t want the person in power to be able to force the person to out themselves.

But in this case, the coercer isn’t the punisher. It’s our President. And more importantly, he’s in on the whole deal too. I’m not necessarily saying that he knew about it or anything. In fact, if I was a Whitehouse guy, I’d keep Bush as far away from all my secret schemes as possible. Same deal with that whole 9/11 conspiracy stuff. Even if you do think that neo-cons planned it, it doesn’t take much to realize that they wouldn’t have included Bush in the plan. Forget plausible deniability. That dope’s going to get you hung! I wouldn’t trust Bush to plan a party, let alone treason.

But regardless of whether Bush was in on it, he certainly benefits from Judith’s silence. Just the taint of scandal is enough to hurt him. And so when he tells his staff to waive confidentiality, that’s not coming from the punisher. That’s coming from one of the damned. That’s coming from one of the guys in Libby’s gang. In fact, that’s coming from the guy that Libby was most directly trying to help. So even if Bush wasn’t directly involved, he is far from an innocent bystander. No. He is in this almost as much as Libby.

And when we look at it that way, we’re just talking about conspirators protecting themselves. In fact, a paranoid person might even suggest that the President intentionally “coerced” his fellow conspirators to waive confidentiality solely because they knew that Miller wouldn’t accept it. But that it would make the conspirators look like they’re doing the necessary act, while not clearing anything up. And so everyone looks like they’re doing the right thing, while all along they’re doing the wrong thing. And that kind of shit is these people’s specialty.

Egregious Bullshit

And so what if there is a theoretical situation which matches this one, but for which the outcome should be the opposite? Maybe the theory should justify these kinds of actions too. Maybe it should protect halfwit shills and libelous liars. But does this make Judy a hero? Do reporters really deserve the praise if they’re serving a bad cause? Because that’s what the real bullshit here is. It’s not about the confidentiality itself. That’s bullshit, to be sure. But it’s not egregious bullshit. The egregious bullshit is the heroizing of Miller. The idea that she’s serving a just cause. Because if you only see it as a preservation of the right of confidentiality, that’s bullshit by itself. Because it does no such thing.

Had Miller immediately caved to Fitzgerald’s demand, that wouldn’t have done a god damn thing to harm confidentiality. Not any more so than it was by going to jail. Because her decision didn’t affect what the government would or could do. Her decision only involved herself. And the next reporter who has to make this decision won’t base it upon Miller’s. Well unless they do it for the fame and praise that Miller got, but I suspect that’s not the exact position that Miller’s supporters are taking.

And if anything, this incident has supported Fitzgerald’s position. He believed he could jail reporters if they didn’t reveal their sources, and that’s exactly what happened. And even now, we see that he has won. Not necessarily because he got the source, but because he could imprison her and release her, based upon his needs. And that’s exactly what his position was from the start.

And even if he had released her early and decided to give up, he still wins regarding imprisoning reporters. Because it was entirely his decision. He thought he could imprison a reporter for this kind of thing, and the judicial system agreed. So he won in either case.

The only way that Judy could win is if she could have prevented Fitzgerald from imprisoning her. But she couldn’t. And once she was locked up and the appeals were over, she was finished. She lost. There was no battle. She was standing up for nothing but herself. Fitzgerald imprisoned her at his wishes, and she stayed there until he was done with her. This is nothing but a complete loss for Miller.

So there’s that angle to the whole thing. This bullshit about protecting source confidentiality was a joke. All she did was confirm it. And every day she spent in jail was just another day of confirmation. If anything, Judith Miller helped bury reporter confidentiality even further. Every reporter from here to Timbuktu is now fully aware that they’re not safe against federal prosecutors. Judy didn’t do anything but confirm that.

More Serious Bullshit

And there’s also the issue of assuming as E&P does that “several important things have changed that convinced Judy that she was released from her obligation.” Because that too is some serious bullshit. Who the hell are they kidding? Sure, maybe a few things did change. But the basic principle is the same: Judith Miller did not want to be in prison, but could not sacrifice her reputation by openly buckling under. The only thing that changed in this case is that Judy finally found a face-saving position so she could get out of jail without destroying her so-called dignity. Because that’s what this is all about. Saving face while pretending to stand up for justice.

And that pussy Matt Cooper wasn’t any better. He too got some kind of double-secret permission that somehow hadn’t been offered before. But the only difference was that Cooper was just a bigger pussy about it, and gave up sooner. But that’s what this was all about. It wasn’t about reporters standing up for reporter’s rights. It was all about their fucking reputations and looking cool in front of their peers. But let’s not pretend that Miller was somehow braver than Cooper. She’s just ballsier, and was willing to do more to help her career. I always got the impression that Cooper was always a kind of putz who accidentally got caught up in all this. But she wanted to ride this out to the end. Unfortunately, prison is probably pretty boring and I guess even Miller has her limits to how far she’ll play her game. There ain’t no Starbucks in jail.

And let’s face it; the real case here wasn’t about source confidentiality. It was about reporter anonymity. Specifically, it was about the media’s desire to keep the story off of them and about everyone else. Sure they go on TV, and sure they want some fame, but only the good stuff. Bad publicity is not for our treasured media. They are supposed to be the ones putting people in jail and righting the wrongs. The system is not supposed to work against them. After all, they’re not like us. They’re just the flies on the wall, telling us what’s going on. They’re not supposed to be caught up in this mess. And that’s what their position always was from the start. And who could doubt that the media would really prefer a blanket protection against all criminal actions. Don’t we all.

Maybe Judy was wanting to protect herself or the Whitehouse. But the media was only looking out for one of their own. And at that, often abusing their position of power to give one-sided stories and opinions on the matter, to better protect their comrade. And by protecting Judy, they were protecting themselves. Not against imprisonment, but against the world. They’re standing up for their right to be left alone; to practice their craft however they see fit. In every courtroom story, they’ll tell us that the maximum time served may be as high as ten years or twenty years in prison; without mentioning that the low end might be probation. But forty days is just too fucking much for these people. Because they’re not like us. Jail isn’t for them. They’re above all that. They’re reporters.

Deeper Bullshit

But the bullshit goes deeper than that. Yes indeed, much deeper. Because this wasn’t about a reporter standing up for what’s right and good; but for what was wicked and wrong. This wasn’t about protecting the weak against tyranny. This was about tyranny protecting their right to tyranate. The powerful protecting themselves through power. And so even if you support source confidentiality and even if you think that Judy was doing something to help protect it, you can’t pretend to like the specifics of this case. Not if you’ve got half a fucking brain, anyway.

It’s like watching a murderer get off scot-free because his rights had been violated. You can support our judicial system without pretending that the bad guy is a hero. Because he’s not. He may be standing on good principles, but he’s still a god damn murderer. And while this case might not involve murder, it’s certainly not a textbook example of confidentiality. Because again, the source waived his right, but she just wouldn’t accept it, even though it came from a sort of ringleader.

Hell, making a hero out of Judy Miller’s like making Larry Flynt a hero. He helped fight for a free press, sure, but there was a lot of fucking and sucking going on to make that happen. And while it’s always important to acknowledge the professionalism and energy that went into making that happen, you just can’t forget that underneath, they’re still just a whore.

Anyway, I’m a little rusty after my hiatus, and my wine glass is empty yet again, so I’m just going to be leaving it at that. I know, it’s a pretty bullshitty ending after I lead you this far. But sometimes, bullshit is enough.

1 comment:

Immanuel Kunt said...

I agree with you characterization of these pathetic excuses for journalists, but might I offer a legitimate reason for Judy's stint in the slammer?
She doesn't want to lose her sources within the whitehouse. If she had just rolled over and fingered the sources, the backdoor information dealers at the whitehouse would pucker up tighter than Mathew Cooper's asshole in a cold county jail.
What makes this different from most source protection cases is that in most cases a reporter will do a story on some criminal act or another, using the whistleblower as there source. In this case the source was committing the crime through there leak. Not only was it dumb, but it was potentially dangerous as well. And because Reagan put this law on the books no legitimate argument can be made that its a partisan witch hunt.