Jail for journalists? What about Rove?

Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller may learn their fate Wednesday. In the meantime, Rep. John Conyers wants some answers from Bush's political advisor.

Published July 5, 2005 8:47PM (EDT)

Matthew Cooper and Judith Miller go back before a federal judge in Washington Wednesday to learn of their fate. If the federal prosecutor handling the Valerie Plame investigation has his way, both reporters will be in jail -- and not in home confinement -- by the end of the week.

At least one commentator thinks that's just fine, and not for the reasons you might think. CQ Weekly columnist Craig Crawford says Cooper should go to jail in order to send a wake-up call to his fellow Americans. "We need this," Crawford writes on his blog. "Americans must see a reporter in handcuffs to understand what is happening to the freedom of the press. [Cooper] should do a Martha Stewart and immediately volunteer to go to a minimum security facility where there will be no issue about his safety. And he should insist on a perp walk to the squad car. That picture will be as provocative and illuminating as the brave soul standing before the tank in Tiananmen Square."

Although Time magazine turned over Cooper's notes last week, federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is telling U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan that he still needs Cooper to testify before the grand jury. Hogan will hold a hearing in the case Wednesday.

Meanwhile, John Conyers is trying to get at the truth of the Plame case another way. According to Raw Story, which consistently has Conyers news before anyone else, the Democrat from Michigan is circulating a draft letter to other Democrats calling on George W. Bush to demand that Karl Rove come clean about the Plame case or step down from his position as deputy White House chief of staff.

"Notwithstanding whether Mr. Rove intentionally violated the law in leaking information concerning former CIA operative Valerie Plame, we believe it is not tenable to maintain Mr. Rove as one of your most important advisors unless he is willing to explain his central role in using the power and authority of your administration to disseminate information regarding Ms. Plame and to undermine her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson," Conyers writes in the draft letter.

Conyers ticks off the evidence of Rove's involvement in Plame's outing -- including his telling Hardball's Chris Matthews that Plame's undercover status was "fair game" -- then says: "Regardless of whether these actions violate the law . . . they seem to reveal a course of conduct designed to threaten and intimidate those who provide information critical of your administration, such as Ambassador Wilson. We hope you agree with us that such behavior should never be tolerated by any administration. While it is acceptable for a private citizen to use every legal tool at his or her disposal to protect himself against legal liability, high-ranking members of your administration who are involved in any effort to smear a private citizen or to disseminate information regarding a CIA operative should be expected to meet a far higher standard of ethical behavior and forthrightness."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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