Monday, January 03, 2005

National Security vs. Crony Journalism

Robert Novak 'Failing as a Journalist' in Plame Affair?

NEW YORK -- In its first major look at Robert Novak and his role in the Valerie Plame/CIA probe, The New York Times today reports that a growing number of media ethics specialists, lawyers and journalists are criticizing the columnist “as failing as a journalist” by not outlining for the public his dealings with the investigation.

"He has become part of the story," Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told the Times. "He should disclose what's going on. Everyone else has."

There is such a gruesome lack of perspective in this case it is difficult to know where to begin. Everyone concerned in this disgraceful matter has failed, Novak, every editor who ran that column, and every reporter to whom this story was shopped and kept quiet. If someone in the government calls you and asks you to betray a CIA case officer you do not simply think it over. You immediately alert the American people to the identity of the traitor in their government. A journalist’s obligation is to their readers, not their sources.

It is obscene to discuss intelligence reform and improving our human intelligence network while the whole world knows we tolerate a traitor in our government. No one will work with us. Moreover, if we fail to bring this criminal to justice, or worse still, institutionalize the pernicious practice of anonymous sources, every intelligence organization on the face of the earth will target our news media for recruitment. It would be the perfect cover, because even if it were known a journalist was a traitor it could never be proven in a court of law.

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