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Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald (AP)

Jamin Raskin feels the press is giving Novak a free ride

ASK THIS | February 14, 2005

It has been more than a year and a half since Robert Novak revealed in his newspaper column that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent, and more than a year since special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald began investigating. How long does it take to get to the bottom of something that looks so simple? Law professor Jamin Raskin thinks the press is giving Novak a free ride.

By Jamin Raskin



Q. Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine have been held in contempt of court and could be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison for not revealing the sources who leaked to them the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame.  Why isn’t Robert Novak, who originally outed Plame by publishing her CIA affiliation, in the same situation as Miller and Cooper?


Q. Assuming that he has been subpoenaed, did Novak plead the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination?  In that case, wouldn’t he have been offered immunity from prosecution by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald? If so, did Novak accept it?  Does that mean he went ahead and testified, turning in his sources?


Q. Should Novak have been offered immunity?  Did he not aid and abet a criminal offense by publishing the identity of a covert agent?


Q. Why isn’t Novak openly stating his position and explaining his legal posture like Miller and Cooper have? What principles is he defending? 


Q. Why are the media giving Novak a free ride?


Q. If Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame were targeted by anonymous high-level government sources because Wilson expressed skepticism about the Bush administration’s story about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, was this an effort to retaliate against Wilson for his exercise of his First Amendment rights?


Q. Who should be covered by the “news reporter shield laws” in 31 states that protect journalists from having to reveal government and other sources? Are bloggers and other Internet writers journalists within the meaning of these laws?  Should the proposed federal shield law championed by leading First Amendment and media groups try to draw a line between conventional media and on-line media?


Q. Do media entities believe that their reporters should have more rights against judicial subpoena and process under freedom of the press than other citizens have under freedom of speech? Are all citizens part of the press for constitutional purposes?


Q. Why does the public seem so unmoved by the plight of journalists being subpoenaed, held in contempt and possibly sent to jail?

And how to write to Patrick Fitzgerald...
Posted by Lynne Foster Shifriss -
02/21/2005, 02:59 PM

How can whatever has happened with Robert Novak be kept so quiet? It makes me wonder just how high up his source was...and that's just why we should know. At least I'll feel better if I can write to Patrick Fitzgerald and complain about this dirty business.

Feel like complaining?
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