Monday, October 18, 2004

Geoffrey R. Stone on the Plame case

Miller, Novak, Plame, Wilson

Finally, it is essential to note that this incident does not involve the intrusion into a confidential source relationship. A confidential source provides information to the press that is useful to the public. Such communications merit First Amendment protection because the information disclosed serves a legitimate public interest. The members of the administration who "outed" Valerie Plame (if indeed they did this) were not confidential sources. They were criminals whose very disclosure of the information was itself the criminal act. There is no First Amendment reason to protect or promote such communications. Even under the most expansive version of the confidential source privilege, such individuals are not entitled to protection because they are not blowing a whistle but directly and intentionally violating the law. If any member of the Bush administration told Judith Miller that Valerie Plame was a covert CIA operative, she should drop the claim that this unlawful act is protected by the First Amendment and, like any other citizen, report their criminal conduct.

One small quibble. Closet homosexuals are outed. CIA case officers are betrayed.

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