Times Reporter Miller Jailed

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Judith Miller gets incarcerated for a story she never wrote about the disclosure of CIA employee Valerie Plame’s identity to the media.

Ms. Miller and Time Magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper lost their bid to avoid disclosing their sources in federal appeals court in February. Citing a 1972 Supreme Court precedent, the First Amendment does not prevent reporters from being compelled to testify before a grand jury.

While Ms. Miller will be jailed in the Washington, DC area, Mr. Cooper’s source has released him from his confidentiality pledge. Further, Time Magazine had already agreed to turn over information about the case to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

The situation seems to be one of the media’s own making. When Robert Novak wrote his column in 2003, he described Ms. Plame as a CIA operative on weapons of mass destruction. After a lengthy outcry by many media outlets for an investigation into who in Washington gave Mr. Novak that information, Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed as special prosecutor and given broad authority to conduct his investigation.

That investigation subsequently caught Mr. Cooper and Ms. Miller in its web. While Mr. Cooper will avoid jail time, Ms. Miller was taken away by US marshals after being sentenced for contempt of court today.

Now, reporters in the US have to hope for passage of a federal shield law to protect them from future prosecutions like this one.

The Times reporter had argued for home confinement, an entreaty US District Judge Thomas Hogan dismissed. Mr. Fitzgerald said: “Forced vacation at a comfortable home is not a compelling form of coercion.”

“The court has to take some action to attempt to get her to comply,” Judge Hogan said. “I cannot find that Ms. Miller has shown that is a realistic possibility, at least until she has been confined.”

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Times Reporter Miller Jailed
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