Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Since Judith Miller Case, Judicial Assault On Press Has Only Intensified

The New York Times on Monday had a column by David Carr on the front page of its Business section which discussed the plethora of subpoena demands on the press since the Judith Miller case, showing the real menace that a corrupt judiciary poses to a free press.

Once again, just as in the Dennis FitzSimons attempt to denigrate the Los Angeles Times, it is a Chicagoan, a foul Chicagoan, who is at the head of the pack. In this case, it is Patrick Fitzgerald, the Chicagoan who has been the special prosecutor in the "tempest in the teapot" persecution of leaks in the Valerie Plame case.

The original leaker has now been identified in that case as a State Department official, Richard Armitrage, and not Lewis Libby, an aide to Vice President Cheney. Yet Fitzgerald, who has wasted millions of taxpayer money in his investigation, continues to go after Libby. Also, as in other press subpoena cases, it was Miller who actually spent more time in jail refusing to reveal her sources, than any of the alleged leakers.

Carr's column in the New York Times Monday leads with the pressure on the Hearst Corp. over who leaked information about steroid use in organized baseball, what is known as the Balco case. In this case, the longest jail term thus far has been four months, but U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White wants to put two San Francisco Chronicle reporters in jail for 18 months for refusing to divulge their sources.

Whatever happened to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which declares no law shall be used to stifle freedom of the press?

The law is often bad news. I can never forget the professor in my Dartmouth days who warned us students, "Don't forget, gentlemen. Everything the Nazis did was strictly legal, according to German law."

Eve Burton, general counsel of the Hearst Corp., told Carr that since the government put Judy Miller in jail, she (Burton) has had to try to fend off 80 separate subpoenas of press personnel, as prosecutors and judges try to use the press as an investigative arm of the government.

Of the two Chronicle reporters now threatened with jail, Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, Burton declared, "The government is apparently willing to spend three years and millions of dollars putting two reporters in jail. They won't get the information they want. These guys made a promise and they are going to keep it."

Yet the persecution goes on, and the fact is that the unwillingness of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., to stand up to the government in the Miller case has only encouraged the scoundrels in the legal profession to push ahead with their aggression against American freedoms.

As I've stated before, my four months at Harvard Law School many years ago convinced me the legal profession is mostly corrupt. Most people wouldn't go into the legal profession unless they intended to be corrupt. As soon as I saw, for instance, that David Hiller, the new publisher of the L.A. Times, was a Harvard Law School graduate, I knew there was every likelihood he would be bad news. It didn't take Hiller very long before he fired the courageous editor, Dean Baquet.

What can be done about the judicial system? One thing that the papers should do is to go after the judiciary, until they desist with their attacks on the press. That means opposing judges for reelection, and undertaking more stories like the L.A. Times ran examining corruption in the judicial branch in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, the number of lawyers might be reduced by adopting a suggestion I made several years ago to require that all those entering law school be required to spend five years in the penitentiary first. That would weed out all but the most devoted miscreants.

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