Freedom of the Press is essential to a democracy. A free press is necessary to act as a check to balance government power by keeping the people informed on government actions and conduct. No one would argue that when a whistleblower gives a journalist information exposing government wrongdoing that adversely affects the common good, that source's identity should be protected.
When the giving of certain information is, in itself a wrongdoing, you no longer can consider that person a source. That person is a criminal. When a journalist is no longer able to make the distinction between the two, it is time to hang up the notebook.
Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times, is serving a jail sentence for refusing to testify before a Federal Grand Jury investigating the leaking of the identity of a covert CIA operative. She is basing her refusal on the right of journalists to protect the identity of their sources.
In this case, the information her source provided was a breach of National Security by exposing the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative working on WMD issues. Those issues were to gather intelligence enabling us to track the flow of those weapons and the materials used to make them in countries around the world. That exposure collapsed the mission that was helping to keep those weapons out of the hands of anti-American groups. As a consequence the CIA front company, Brewster Jennings, through which she posed as an energy consultant was also lost. CIA officials are still trying to establish the extent of the damage done to our intelligence community.
The motive for officials in the White House to sacrifice the safety and security of our nation and its citizens was to exact revenge on Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, for revealing that Bush lied about the threat posed by Iraq to justify the US planned invasion. In July, 2003 Wilson wrote an op-ed piece in the NY Times detailing a trip he agreed to undertake for the CIA the previous Feb. to see if he could confirm a report containing documents showing Saddam Hussein was attempting to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. His 20 year diplomatic career included assignments in Africa giving him contacts and high level entry into the Dept. of Mines and most Nigerian government offices. At the end of his eight day fact finding mission, he concluded that the report was false. No such attempt by Iraq had taken place in Niger and stated that in his debriefing to the CIA in early March, 2002. Several subsequent reports had confirmed his findings, including one from the UN head of the IAEA, El Barradei, who said the documents were obvious forgeries. He was therefore taken aback when he heard George Bush include that discounted claim ten months later in his State of the Union address.
To cover up the administration's manipulating, exaggerating and manufacturing intelligence that would support a legal basis for invading Iraq, it was necessary to discredit Wilson's article. To do that it was decided to portray him as unqualified to make that determination by saying the only reason he was sent to Niger was not bvecause of his ability and experience, but because his wife worked at the CIA and was responsible for his being sent.
It is surprising to see the almost universal support being given to Miller by other journalists for her choosing jail rather than reveal her source. She is being portrayed as a heroine protecting the First Amendment. It isn't the first time Miller was used as a propaganda tool. She filed many "scoops" appearing on the front page of the Times in the lead-up to the war with information from sources promoting the reasons to consider Iraq a dangerous threat to the US. After the invasion she was embedded with our troops in Iraq and filed stories with exclusives she was given by con man Ahmad Chalabi in Baghdad. The Times later apologized for publishing articles that promoted the war without verifying the accuracy of some of the claims made.
The question never asked is whether or not Miller was a willing tool in the White House propaganda machine promoting the march to war or was she duped? If she was an active participant, her using her shield of confidentiality to protect those who would jeopardize National Security to cover up a deliberate contrivance to justify an invasion has nothing to do with protecting the First Amendment. What she is protecting are treasonous criminals and her complicity in the treason. She is guilty of misusing the press to promote State propaganda and violated the Constitutional guarantee of a free press. If she was duped, she should have learned from past experience of being fed propaganda to promote war that she didn't have a source. Rather she was dealing with someone who was using her, used her again to commit a crime by proxy and was continuing to use her to shield him from prosecution for his crime. This is not a source entitled to be shielded by any cloak of confidentiality. If she was truly interested in protecting the Constitution, it is she who should have adopted the role of whistleblower and exposed the governmental wrongdoing of officials in the administration passing classified information that endangers our country to cover up governmental wrongdoing of lying us into war.
Judith Miller deserves no praise. There is nothing honorable about either willfully or negligently aiding and abetting treason.