Saturday, October 29, 2005

Not All About Them

As Glenn Greenwald notes, this case is not going to simply be a their (journalists') word against his (Scooter's), that there are also likely contradictions between Scooter's testimony and that of other Bush administration officials (via the Plank). Demonstrating, once again, that Lucy Dalglish doesn't know what the hell she's talking about:

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the case was setting a dangerous precedent. "Reading the indictment makes my blood run cold," she said. "This whole thing hinges on Russert."

I also want to highlight one of the claims in this Times piece which I don't think has gotten enough attention:

Floyd Abrams, the First Amendment lawyer, said he could not recall a previous case that depended so heavily on testimony by reporters or in which reporters could be so exposed.

"It's troubling that reporters are being asked to play so central a role, but even more troubling that reporters may be obliged to play the role of testifying against someone that they had promised confidentiality to," said Mr. Abrams, who has at various times represented The New York Times, Time, Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper.

Do we, in fact, know that the journalists had promised confidentiality to the sources? I don't really know for certain, but my sense is that a culture has developed in Washington where everything is just assumed to be off the record unless the source provides affirmative permission for it to be on the record. Instead of confidentiality being negotiated over particular bits of information it's actually the default. When Scooter calls up Little Russ on the phone he just assumes that he can say anything he wants without it showing up on Meet the Press unless they agree otherwise. If this is the state of affairs - and it shouldn't be - then it puts a different light on all of these noble discussions of promising confidentiality. It becomes utterly meaningless.