Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More on the shield

Fore Left has devoted much time and type to the strange civil suit of Wen Ho Lee against the government and the cash settlement paid to make it go away. In that case the leaky officials worked for the Clinton administration, some of whom were perhaps planning a role in the 2008 campaign.

We've (well, me) also covered the recent contempt citation against New York Times reporter James Risen for leaking top secret info in his book. He faces jail time if he doesn't give up sources.

MSM coverage of both stories seemed to echo the critical need for a reporter shield law to stop the government from crushing the dissent of those in the government who want to leak top secret info. Ironically, the only reporter to visit jail of late for such a thing was Judith Miller, who turned out to be a lonely voice for a shield law in the Scooter Libby trial.

Now we have another reporter, former USA Today scribe Toni Locy, held in contempt for leaking information about Army biologist Steven Hatfill, the "person of interest" in the yet unsolved anthrax letter case. And irony of ironies, the judge in that case is none other than Reggie Walton, who adjudicated the Libby case and is working the Risen deal as well. Small world, eh?

Judge Reggie wants to fine Locy 500 per day---eventually up to 5000--until she gives up the officials' names. Fat chance. If precedent means anything we'll soon see another cash settlement for Hatfill, just like with Lee, a prediction made here. Of course, predictions are never guaranteed, as evidenced by the NFL playoff picks made here last month, but this one feels a little better.

If Hatfill does get a cash settlement it will bolster conspiracy theories that suggest he was a willing dupe in the case to divert attention away from terrorists (or even persons within the biodefense industry). Can they be blamed? If he doesn't, maybe that means John Ashcroft will actually make an appearance somewhere other than his own dinner table.

MORE 2/21/08

Michelle Malkin has long covered the anthrax story and reminds us of the connection of not only Judge Walton from the Libby case, but also of New York Times reporter Nic Kristof, who broke one of the first stories about Hatfill.

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