By Greg Palast
The New York Times doesn’t want Judy jailed. Instead, the Time’s point-man, William Safire, suggests busting whistleblowers, not journalists.
Judith Miller is facing big time in the Big House because of her refusal to name an intelligence source.
Miller, if you remember, was the willing conduit of official disinformation who by-lined the infamous stories in the Times backing Bush Administration hooey about Saddam’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction. (Oddly, the Administration is not asking her to reveal who in Camp Bush fed her that hot, stinking load of baloney.)
Safire, just before Independence Day, defended Miller in the oddest manner. Instead of standing by Thomas Jefferson’s great invention, freedom of the press, he instead offers Big Brother other targets for imprisonment, citing with approval attempts to arrest intelligence whistleblower Philip Agee. Agee is a “turncoat” in the mind of the former Times man, and therefore should take Miller’s place in the dungeon.
The implied maxim is: seize the other guy, but leave my colleagues alone.
For those whose political memories have been wiped clean by overexposure to Bill O’Reilly, I will remind you that Agee, a former CIA agent, resigned in the 1970s, then wrote an eye-popping insider’s exposé of the Langley spook kingdom.
Like former US intelligence agent Daniel Ellsberg who outed the Pentagon Papers, Agee also gave reporters confidential information detailing our government’s perfidy. Like Ellsberg, Agee did so without concealing his identity.
Oddly, by Safire’s rules, had Agee taken the less courageous route and given his story in secret to the Times, the agent would then have enjoyed complete constitutional protection.
But Mr. Safire, freedom of the press and of speech must extend not only to the phantasmagoric reporting of Judith Miller and the Times, but also to those who report on the uncomfortable facts her official lunch-buddies would conceal. Believe it or not, Bill, Jefferson proposed freedom of the press even for those who do not work for the New York Times.
No matter how deserving she is of hard time for acting as propagandist in reporter’s clothing, I don’t want to see Judith Miller jailed and, unlike Safire, I would not offer the jackals of repression another body to chew.
Greg Palast, an investigative reporter, has disclosed confidential US intelligence documents on BBC Television’s Newsnight (London). View these BBC reports and several of these no-longer confidential documents at www.GregPalast.com.