Ever since the fun couple of Wilson & Plame appeared in full Bond Drag on the pages of Vanity Fair, it’s been hard to see this whole affair as anything more than a not-tremendously-funny political farce. A former employee of Saudi Arabia is appointed by the CIA to go to Niger to report on whether someone there sold yellowcake to Saddam. And he does this by drinking tea… As if.
But now, at least, something good may be coming of this absurd charade. Reporters supposed legal entitlement to secret sources may have about reached its end point. Even the NYT’s Judith Miller has acknowledged the judge’s right to send her to jail. It is only her own promise to her source which she is protecting, not some special journalist’s privilege placing the press above the law.
The public – often confused or even misled by information coming from such secret sources – is the beneficiary of all this. Let’s hope the anonymous source will soon have gone the way of the dinosaur. [Or the anchorman.-ed. I knew you’d say that.]
UPDATE: John Hinderaker has a detailed exposé of some press coverage of this contretemps as well as a wrist slap for my old Scarsdale High School debating team partner Robert Kuttner.