Friday, July 01, 2005

Time Caves on Spy Notes

Time magazine announced yesterday it would turn over notes from reporter Matt Cooper that could reveal who leaked the name of a CIA agent in the Joe Wilson scandal.

Cooper and NY Times reporter Judith Miller face jail time on contempt charges for not revealing their sources -- whoever gave up Wilson's wife broke the law.

(Happened to me once, too -- thought I was going to jail)

Slippery slope time here, folks.

On the one hand, journalists must maintain their independence from government intervention and must not appear to be tools of the government -- otherwise they have not credibility and can not perform their important role in a free society.

On the other hand, reporters are not above the law, and must not break the law or allow their sources to do so in providing information -- particularly anonymous sources.

The use of anonymous sources is a sometimes necessary but always perilous thing. I think reporters do it far too often and far too casually these days, without examining the motives of those sources or the consequences of using them.

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