Late-Wednesday randomness
MacInTouched again

Bad, bad precedent

Via Bug: Time magazine has decided to hand over notes and other documents concerning one of its reporters' confidential source in the disclosure of the identity of a covert CIA agent, Valerie Plame.

New York Times story excerpt below the cut.

The article title link leads to a registration-free version of the story at

Time Decides to Hand Over Notes of Reporter Facing Prison


Time magazine said today that it would provide documents concerning the confidential sources of one of its reporters to a grand jury investigating the disclosure of the identity of a covert C.I.A. agent, Valerie Plame.

In a statement, Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.'s editor in chief, said: "The same Constitution that protects the freedom of the press requires obedience to final decisions of the courts and respect for their rulings and judgments. That Time Inc. strongly disagrees with the courts provides no immunity. The innumerable Supreme Court decisions in which even presidents have followed orders with which they strongly disagreed evidences that our nation lives by the rule of law and that none of us is above it."

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down appeals from the magazine, one of its reporters, Matthew Cooper, and a reporter for The New York Times, Judith Miller.

On Wednesday, Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the Federal District Court in Washington said he would order the reporters jailed for up to 120 days if they do not agree to testify before the grand jury in the meantime. He also said that he would impose substantial fines on the magazine.

The decision by a major news organization to disclose the identities of its confidential sources appears to be without precedent in living memory.

In an interview on CNN, Mr. Pearlstine said the threat of fines played no role in the magazine's thinking. "We are not above the law," he said.

The magazine made its decision over the objections of its reporter, Mr. Cooper.

The documents to be turned over include Mr. Cooper's notes. Mr. Pearlstine said that the magazine's move should make moot the threat of jail time for Mr. Cooper.

"We believe that our decision to provide the special prosecutor with the subpoenaed records obviates the need for Matt Cooper to testify and certainly removes any justification for incarceration," Mr. Pearlstine said in his statement.

It is less clear whether the magazine's decision will affect Ms. Miller.

At the hearing Wednesday, one of her lawyers, Robert S. Bennett, said that a decision by Time to disclose documents could conceivably help his client as well.

"Maybe Time magazine is thinking of doing some things that might moot out the case," Mr. Bennett said.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The New York Times, said in a statement: "We are deeply disappointed by Time Inc.'s decision to deliver the subpoenaed records. We faced similar pressures in 1978 when both our reporter Myron Farber and The Times Company were held in contempt of court for refusing to provide the names of confidential sources. Mr. Farber served 40 days in jail and we were forced to pay significant fines.

"Our focus is now on our own reporter, Judith Miller, and in supporting her during this difficult time."

Judge Hogan has scheduled another hearing for Wednesday to consider the reporters' fate. Until Time's decision complicated matters, it appeared that the reporters, both of whom have refused to testify, would be told when and where to report to jail at that hearing.