Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Utter contempt

No, this is not about Governor Spitzer's whoremongering. As Jonathan noted, one of the reporters who passed leaked government information about Steven Hatfill, a 'person of interest' in the anthrax mailings, has been cited for contempt:
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said Toni Locy must pay fines of up to $5,000 a day out of her own pocket as long as she continues to defy his order that she cooperate in scientist Steven J. Hatfill's lawsuit against the government.
Earlier comments are here. We'll see if the media takes much of an interest in a story so close to home. Some are covering it, like her former employer USA Today, which quoted Ms Locy as follows:
"Even mafia bosses and White House aides are allowed to have legal defense funds," Locy said. "But in Judge Walton's eyes I apparently committed a far more heinous crime: I informed the public about the status and quality of the FBI investigation into the first biological attack on U.S. soil. I respectfully disagree.
Notice the offhand reference to Scooter Libby, dripping with irony because Judge Walton presided over that trial of course. And as previously mentioned, the judge is not unfamiliar with the Lee settlement:
In his opinion, Walton frequently cited the case of a former nuclear weapons scientist, Wen Ho Lee, who was once suspected of spying. In 2004, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson fined five reporters $500 a day each for refusing to identify their sources for stories about the scientist.

After Jackson postponed the fines pending appeals, news organizations, including the AP, eventually agreed to pay Lee $750,000 as part of a $1.6 million settlement of his privacy suit against the government, based on their expectation the Supreme Court would decline to hear appeals. The high court turned away the appeal after the settlement was announced
.
Good for the goose is good for the gander, eh? Those were Clinton era officials being protected.

The game of chicken begins at midnight when the fines go into effect. Unlike the Lee case there's no longer a compelling incentive for the MSM to make a cash settlement because the other reporters involved have been given waivers to identify their sources and Ms. Locy no longer works for a news organization. But like the Lee case there might be an incentive for the government to contribute. At any rate it would appear Judge Walton is using her as a lever to get someone to act. We'll see who blinks first.

1 comment:

Stormwarning said...

Funny thing about this case, Amerithrax. I have been epxressly interested in this one from the moment that it happened.

If Steve Hatfill is not the perpetrator, then who is? If you read the FBI side of the story, not one new entry on the Ameritrax website since Sept. 2006.