Letters

Readers have little sympathy for jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Plus: Skepticism over President Bush's aid for Africa.


Salon Staff
July 8, 2005 11:07PM (UTC)

[Read "Miller Goes to Jail," by Michael Scherer, and "All Eyes on Turd Blossom," by David Paul Kuhn.]

When the press as an organism acts like Pravda, it's pretty funny to see it now crying over its sacred obligation to protect anonymous sources. Bleh. It is not like any real reporting has been going on the last many years.

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Media stenos (as opposed to journos) seem more eager to keep their high-prestige, high-paying jobs than they are to inform the public about things that matter. They channel "he said, she said" rhetoric and look pretty for the camera. There is no "there" there. And there is certainly nothing sacred in what they do.

Judith Miller, among her crimes against civilization, wants to deny information about a crime -- possibly treason -- to an investigator. Let her go to jail like any other citizen who would withhold such evidence.

-- Linda Rigel

I suppose the journalistic breast-beating over Miller going to jail was to be expected. No profession loves to trumpet its own importance more. But am I alone in just not giving a shit? "Dainty" Miller, whose crappy reporting helped mire us in an unnecessary war, is going to jail (presumably) to shield a felon. Or maybe she is simply shielding one of those great White House sources of hers -- God knows, their information has been pure gold in the past. Either way, does it matter? The courts have ruled that Miller should turn over her notes. Are journalists above the law?

-- Elizabeth Bass

Oh, how I wish our press could distinguish apples from oranges...

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Can members of the press truly not distinguish between protecting a source of genuine, good-faith news, and protecting someone seeking an accomplice willing to facilitate a criminal act?

The outing of Plame had nothing to do with news. The intent here was criminal revenge and the willful endangerment of national security. These are not protected by the First amendment.

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But please, members of the press, continue your feckless hand-wringing. As you go to jail with chin up, whining about the "chilling effect" of it all, you have my thanks for, once again, utterly missing the point.

-- Patrick Cunningham

The real question is, why didn't anyone who knew the identity of the leaker reveal it earlier? There are at least six reporters who knew who the leaker was -- because he tried to leak to them. And those reporters don't even acknowledge the disconnect here.

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The recent vision of Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC talking about this case with other reporters -- and no one reminding her that, uh, she knows the truth and has all along and just never bothered to share it with her viewers -- makes me think that Washington journalists have lost touch with reality. They have a big pink elephant pooping in their living room, and they have agreed not to talk about it -- or even explain why they aren't talking about it. They're an embarrassment. Whatever it is they want, it isn't "a good story," because a bunch of them have been sitting on one of the best stories of the decade.

-- Alicia Rasley

I can't believe what's happening in your country. I'm scared of what it means for my country, [Australia], and for the world. The government gives itself more power to become less and less transparent, and the people are forced to be more and more transparent. Where has honor gone? I suspect it's going with Judith to jail.

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-- (Name Withdrawn)

This is simple. The Constitution guarantees the right of a free press. The Constitution gives no such rights to the government to conduct whatever business it wishes carte blanche. The Constitution is the source of the rule of law and trumps any such rights 100 percent of the time. Any judges who see it otherwise should be impeached for fundamental violations of their oath of office.

This is just another example of all three branches of the federal government marginalizing the Constitution to further their self-interests.

The fact that the so-called journalist who publicly leaked the information hasn't even been called to testify just shows how politically motivated this whole sham is.

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-- Richard Dunn

What I do not understand is how Robert Novak has avoided jail time in the case involving the Plame-White House source. No one mentions it in any articles, so I can only assume that he has identified his sources, since it was he who first unmasked Plame as an undercover agent. But if he has revealed his source, how do we not know who it was? How has no one gotten in trouble for this? Can you please explain this to me? It seems as if Novak should be front and center in this case and yet all I ever hear about is Miller and Cooper. Why is that?

-- David McAloon

Revealing the name of an American agent in a time of war is an act of treason. Judith Miller is protecting a traitor and thus is an accessory to treason. Traditionally these people are shot by a firing squad or hanged by the neck until dead. A couple of months in jail is too light for what she is guilty of.

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-- Fred Parkinson

I cannot get too excited by the prospect of Karl Rove being led away in chains. The reason, quite simply, is that nothing will come of it, if history offers any guidance. The Republicans have demonstrated a willingness to pardon or pre-pardon those who do the dirty work. Without the need to run for reelection, why would anyone think that G.W. Bush wouldn't pardon old pal Turd Blossom?

-- Michael Gratz

[Read "An 'African Success Story' Gone Sour," by Blake Lambert, and "Getting Real on Africa, by Suzanne Nossel.]

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Your recent story on Uganda is typical of the American tourist-cum-travel writer who, having spent a few days or weeks or even months in Africa, suddenly becomes an "expert" and tells the outside world the "inside story" of what's "really" going on in Africa.

Your reporter is seeing a fraction of the full Uganda story, listening to the loudest voices of criticism without fully grasping the full horror of what Uganda has been through for the last 40 years and more. It makes me sick to see the way Americans, even those who purport to be progressives, complain about an African leader like Museveni, who is one of the few world leaders who actually has a vision, a long-range program, and a cleaner slate than practically any other leader in the region.

-- Margaretta Wa Gacheru

Your article really misrepresented George W. Bush's position on Africa. His "spasms of generosity" in aid to Africa are spasms because his intentions are not real. Bush's rhetoric about not dictating what future administrations spend on aid is a crock of crap.

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He is arrogant and is about continuing the old ugly way of colonialism -- dictating to Africans as if they were slow stupid children instead of ancient, colonially bereft and left-behind societies punished for their desire to be independent of colonizers by the same Western world's subsequent neglect.

-- Claire P. Taylor

Your piece on Bush's activism in Africa takes as face value the administration's claims and doesn't even check to see whether they actually do what they purport to. Of Bush's much-vaunted $15 billion for AIDS, less then $3 billion has been allocated, and even less has been spent, and much of what has been spent has gone to ineffectual abstinence programs. The much-ballyhooed recent "extra money" for Africa was money that had been already allocated. Although I expect mendacity from the Bush administration, I expect Salon writers to at least engage in a little fact-checking.

-- Brian Gygi

Ms. Nossel's article on what steps the United States could take in Africa was generally quite good.

However, especially given the mention of Darfur, I was surprised to see no mention of U.S. funding for peacekeeper training under the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program (ACOTA, formerly the Africa Crisis Response Initiative).

Funding for ACOTA has remained stagnant under the Bush administration, and according to Michael O'Hanlon and Peter Singer of the Brookings Institute (their article is available here; see page 90), it represents about 10 percent of what would be needed to create a robust African capacity for humanitarian intervention in regional conflicts.

If we are serious about preventing genocidal conflict in Africa, it strikes me that more public attention to programs intended to provide intervention capacity would be helpful -- both to ensure that they are funded at appropriate levels, and that they are having their intended effects.

-- Daniel H. Levine


Salon Staff

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