government accountability

Jackson has weighed in on the Plame affair, as has Brittney. I guess I should go ahead and write this now, since as Bill Plante reports:

(AP) Indictments of one or more of President Bush’s top advisers in the CIA leak investigation could come today, next week or even not at all.

Umm. Yeah, thanks. So I just have a few opinions to provide as a matter of record:

1) Putting Judith Miller in jail is a dangerous precedent for a government. I don’t care how wrong, creepy (she is very creepy), irresponsible, self-serving and outright contrary to the truth her reporting at the NYT was. Matt Welch:

Therapists, lawyers, priests, and spouses all have at least some protection against having their confidential conversations made into fodder for rampaging prosecutors. If it were up to me, that shield would be extended to the full population, at least until the grand jury system was reigned back in.

But in the meantime, no matter how much we hate individual or institutional journalists, no matter which political party we shill for, expanding that protection to cover those who intend to commit acts of journalism is at least a pinkie in the door. It’s a small gesture toward protecting what few constitutional checks we still have against the government’s ability to demand anything out of anyone at any time. A federal shield thus construed would also make it easier for all of us to contribute to the free exchange of information.

2) The outing of a CIA agent should not be a crime. Too many progressives are taking such delight in a glimmer of hope that the Bush Administration might finally reap what it has sown that they are getting a little too sanctimonious in defending the law that they broke in the first place. Criminalizing the disclosure of information is bad news, particularly in defense of an organization with as despicable a track-record as the CIA. It’s hard to imagine this practice not leading to a lack of accountability and abuse in our government. Outing an agent should obviously have repercussions, but it shouldn’t be illegal.

3) Despite 1) and 2), I will take great pleasure in seeing indictments handed down – not in spite of my misgivings, but right alongside them. The fact that I don’t think CIA agent outing should be a crime doesn’t change the fact that it is – and one that the Bush administration willfully committed to slander a political opponent. For that, I have no pity.