1. Anonymous says:

    Once again, you gotta love the people who think they’re honoring grand jury secrecy because they leak their information anonymously.

    I mean, that pretty much gets to the heart of the problem, doesn’t it? That as long as you don’t get caught, you’re blameless? That, and the rather narcissistic notion that somehow it’s not the information they’re protecting with those laws — no, they’re just jealous that the leaker might get credit for the info.

    What a cesspool.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve long contended that Miller isn’t the most frequent tool of the GOP at the Times, that instead it’s the co-author of today’s piece, Richard Stevenson. Almost every single thing he writes is an anoymously sourced piece about what the WH, the Bush campaign or the RNC is doing. He’s the worst damn tool in the entire DC press corps. I’m not surprised he was Rove’s tool with this story; I would have been shocked if he wasn’t.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is one of those instances when, as an ex-journalist, I’d like to believe that a diligent reporter went looking for a source in the Administration, found one, tied what the source said to previously known material, then reported it in a nuanced way.

    But it’s obvious that it wasn’t a reporter who ferreted out the source but rather the source who approached the reporters.

    Now that’s not always a bad thing. It’s what whistleblowers do – Daniel Ellsberg still being a prime example. No reporter was looking for him; it was the other way around. However, when the anonymous source is someone who works for an organization – corporate or governmental – and provides information that supports the contentions of someone else who works for that organization who is under fire, well, how many synapses does it take for a reporter’s bullshit antennae to go on full alert?

    Given what’s happened repeatedly during the Bush Administration, a good reporter ought to add a disclaimer in any story that relies exclusively on a single anonymous source; to wit: â€Readers should buy into the â€revelations†of an anonymous source with extreme caution as the source’s agenda is unknown and may be disinformational in nature.†Readers should, of course, ALWAYS do that, whether or not the source is anonymous.

    Right now, with the feeding frenzy on, reporters are going to feel incredible pressure to find any little tidbit in order to be first to report something â€new†in the Rove/Plame case. So we can probably expect to see more of this. One wonders if Mr. Fitzgerald will be subpoenaing reporters from the WaPo, NYT and AP to find out who leaked this information in contravention of his command that they keep their traps shut.

    Many – though not enough – media outlets already have ethics guidelines governing, among other things, use of anonymous sources. My old stomping grounds, The Los Angeles Times, just got around to issuing its guidelines after a year’s worth of internal wrangling.

    For many of us who have worked as investigative reporters, the guidelines’ take on anonymous sources seems mostly like commonsense. That a newspaper of such high visibility and reputation must actually explain to its reporters how they should handle sources (and deal with other ethical situations) speaks volumes about the state of the journalistic profession.

    Of anonymous sources, the guidelines say:


    We report in environments – Hollywood and Washington, to name two – where
    anonymity is routinely sought and casually granted. We stand against that practice and
    seek to minimize it. We are committed to informing readers as completely as possible;
    the use of anonymous sources compromises this important value.

    These standards are not intended to discourage reporters from cultivating sources who are wary of publicity. Such informants can be invaluable. But the information they
    provide can often be verified with sources willing to be named, from documents, or both.
    We should make every effort to obtain such verification. Relying in print on unnamed
    sources should be a last resort, subject to the following guidelines:

    When we use anonymous sources, it should be to convey important information to
    our readers. We should not use such sources to publish material that is trivial, obvious or

    Sources should never be permitted to use the shield of anonymity to voice
    speculation or to make ad hominem attacks.

    An unnamed source should have a compelling reason for insisting on anonymity,
    such as fear of retaliation, and stories should state those reasons when they are relevant.

    The reporter and editor must be satisfied that the source has a sound factual basis for
    his or her assertions. Some sources quoted anonymously might tend to exaggerate or
    overreach precisely because they will not be named.

    Stories should identify sources as completely as possible consistent with the promise
    of anonymity. In particular, a source’s point of view and potential biases should be
    disclosed as fully as possible. For instance, “an advisor to Democratic members of the
    House Foreign Affairs Committee†is preferable to “a Congressional source.â€

    When practical, a reporter should consult an editor before entering into an agreement to protect a source’s anonymity. In some cases, an editor may insist on knowing the
    source’s identity in order to evaluate the reliability of the information provided.
    In rare instances, sources may insist that the paper and the reporter resist subpoenas
    and judicial orders, if necessary, to protect their anonymity. Reporters should consult a
    masthead editor before entering into any such agreement.

    Even in the absence of such an agreement, the possibility exists that a prosecutor,
    grand jury or judge will demand to know a source’s identity, forcing the reporter to
    choose between unmasking the source and going to jail for contempt of court. Such
    situations are rare, and they should not deter us from investigating sensitive or
    contentious matters.

    Reporters should be extremely circumspect about how and where they store
    information that might identify an anonymous source. Many electronic records, including
    e-mail, can be subpoenaed from and retrieved by non-newsroom employees.
    Promises to a source must be kept except under the most extraordinary
    circumstances. If a source, acting in bad faith, were to succeed in using the newspaper to
    spread misinformation, we would consider our promise of anonymity no longer binding.
    That said, we do not “burn†sources.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been trying to find the Times’ guidelines, also issued this year (or renewed, when they switched public editors). IIRC they emphasize the writer should indicate why the source needed to be anonymous. Now, if my fairly elementary speculation is right and this is Luskin, I think an appropriate explanation for the anonymity would be, â€the source doesn’t want to be identified because he wants to hide the fact that he is preparing his clients’ defense.†Perhaps I’m too harsh. Maybe they could have just said, â€the source, who has a personal interest in the story.†Instead, they went back to the old â€Fitzgerald told me not to talk.†Furthermore, if it IS Luskin, it’s really pathetic that these guys accepted it, seeing as how they refer to Luskin by name elsewhere in the article.

  5. Anonymous says:

    [This post is a bit of a test. If your computer’s operating system can’t read Chinese, you won’t see the Chinese portion correctly.]


    Zigong asked, â€Is there a single word which one could act on all one’s life?â€
    The Master said, â€Wouldn’t it be shù [æ•] (likening-to-oneself)? What you do not yourself desire do not do to others.â€

    From the Confucian Analects, 15.24 (A.C. Graham, transl. in Disputers of the Tao, p. 20.)

    It strikes me that Rove is paying the price for not adhering to this maxim (the Chinese version of the Golden Rule, which is slightly different and more astute politically than the Western version, if you ask me). After all, Confucius was a political advisor/consultant.

    So I would dispute the idea that what is happening here is that Democrats are learning to play Rove’s amoral game. It’s more that the house rules are beginning to be enforced.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If you read the NYT and the WaPo story carefully, I think it supports your theory, ’wheel, that there is an effort to shift blame onto Cheney’s shop here. I eagerly await the Cheney camp’s response.

    What seems to have happened is not just that they were worried about Wilson revealing what he found out, but that Cheney became incensed that he was being linked to Wilson’s trip. So his minions pushed back, starting the â€workup†on Wilson etc. (This suggests timing for the preparation of the INR Report, btw).

    Someone from the Cheney gang was presumably the one who knew or figured out the connection of Valerie to Joe. Then it went to Novak and a few others. But Rove knew about the connection, if not all the details, when Novak called.

    There is a not-so-subtle attempt here by Luskin to try to turn attention back to the original leaker, or â€connector,†if you will. Not so good for Cheney & Co, maybe not even for Rove. But if this pack of theives is turning on each other, better for us trying to find out what happened.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is tangentially related, so bear with me.

    Why can’t Novak have two completely different sources, say Hannah or Libby as the political person, and Rice or Powell as the non-partisan official?  In other words, is Rove directly involved in the production of Novak’s story as one of the two sources?

    One would think that anyone in the Iraq Working Group might well have known Plame’s identity.  Especially if Wilson is write that they had a meeting and decided to do a workup on him — that workup in istelf would not necessarily be against the law.

    Rove in saying â€I’ve heard that too†if those were his exact words did not say HOW he had heard that, and thus it is not per se a denial of KNOWING  ..  it does not even address the question of if he KNEW, and gives him deniability to the charge that he told —  the statement is so vague that IF you believe it, by itself there is probably no criminal liability.

    The followup phone calls once Novak’s article had been published, however, are a clear violation of the law.  Rove may not have realized that.  If in fact he did call Matthews and Mtichell and tell the former that Plame was now fair game, then he would seem to believe that since her name was published no secrecy needed to be continued.  But that is NOT how the law reads, and that act by itself is a clear violation of the espionage act, serves as a confirmation of Plame’s identity, and may well violate the IIPA, particularly subsection (b).  

    I think our focus may be wrong.  I think Fitzgerald can legally nail Rove for the phone calls AFTER Novak’s column appeared.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Maybe, but it appears the FBI has been looking into the months before the leak and looking for the original leak since the investigation started. if they are loking at a substantial crime, as the judges’ opinions would suggest, conspiracy comes to mind, and it might have been a fairly large one.

  9. Anonymous says:

    In fact, the Pincus-Allen story says pretty clearly,

    â€One reason investigators are looking back is that even before Novak’s column appeared, government officials had been trying for more than a month to convince journalists that Wilson’s mission was not as important as it was being portrayed.
    . . . The FBI is trying to determine when White House officials and members of the Vice President’s staff first focused on Wilson and learned about his wife’s employment at the agency. One group that may have known of the connection at the time is the handful of CIA officers detailed to the White House, where they work primarily on the National Security Council staff. . . .
    White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said in responmse to a query for this article: ’I think it would be counterproductive during an ongoing investigation for me to chase rumors and speculation. . . .’â€

    Not too much has changed since then.

  10. Anonymous says:

    When I first heard about this story, my first reaction was, it’s utter bullshit if it’s Luskin and they gave him anonymity. My second reaction was, I wonder what MB will have to say?

    What most people don’t grasp is that Luskin is an ADMINISTRATION SOURCE – he is the lawyer for a top Administration official, he’s not some pundit randomly spouting off. I don’t see how the media can let the WH get away with saying their official policy is not to comment, but then they grant WH officials anonymity so they can comment without appearing to break their own rule. It’s totally ridiculous.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ah, but the difference, Steve, is that Luskin is NOT under any suspicion of participating in a conspiracy to obstruct justice, as Scottie likely is.

    Further, you have to feel for the guy. He and Rove are the only two people who can legally talk about Rove’s testimony. So he pretty much has to leak now, doesn’t he.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I feel for the guy, but I sure don’t feel for the media that insists on giving the public a completely false impression that the Administration is hiding behind a principled refusal to comment.

    If someone tells the world that they’re not going to comment, but then they tell the media that they’ll give them a story as long as they’re sourced anonymously, the response should be a big â€fuck you.†Letting anonymous source protection serve as a license to commit partisan smears is how we got in this whole mess in the first place.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Here are the recommendations recently made to the NYT on the use of anonymous sources:

    Reporters must be more aggressive in pressing sources to put information and quotations on the record, especially sources who strongly desire to get their viewpoint into the paper.
    Editors must be more energetic in pressing reporters to get that information on the record. They must also recognize that persuading reticent sources to put their names behind sensitive disclosures is not easy; it may slow the reporting.

    When anonymity is unavoidable, reporters and editors must be more diligent in describing sources more fully. The basics include how the anonymous sources know what they know, why they are willing to provide the information and why they are entitled to anonymity.

    And in Keller’s response to the report.

    We resist granting anonymity for opinion, speculation or personal attacks.


    when anonymity is unavoidable editors must press for adequate disclosure — how the sources know what they know, what motivated them to share the information, and why they are entitled to anonymity. (Note: Not why they ASK for anonymity, but why we feel they are entitled to it.)

    I wonder how deeply Mr. Johnston and Mr. Stevenson considered the motive of the person who leaked this information on Rove. And I wonder why it wasn’t included in this story.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My bad. Mr. Johnston and Mr. Stevenson did tell us their source’s motivation:

    The person discussed the matter in the belief that Mr. Rove was truthful in saying that he had not disclosed Ms. Wilson’s identity.

    I’m not sure whether they need to read more novels (better understanding of the word â€motivationâ€) or just need to fine tune their language. If this is motivation, it seems, the proper sentence should be, The person discussed the matter because he wanted to explain to the public how–in spite of Rove’s admitted involvement in the Plame affair–he is not guilty of a crime.

  15. Anonymous says:

    here’s another story I missed from Froomkin:

    And there’s another possible blockbuster story this morning from Thomas M. DeFrank and Kenneth R. Bazinet , who write in the New York Daily News: â€The special prosecutor probing the outing of a CIA spy is looking beyond who leaked Valerie Plame’s identity, seeking whether White House aides tried to cover their tracks after her name went public, sources told the Daily News.

    â€Along with Bush political guru Karl Rove, the grand jury is investigating what role, if any, ex-White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer may have played in the revelation that the former covert operative Plame was married to former Ambassador Joe Wilson. . . .

    â€A State Department memo that included background on Wilson — and who in the White House had access to it — appears to be a key to revealing who gave conservative columnist Robert Novak Plame’s name, [two] sources said.â€

  16. Anonymous says:

    The press operates in the public interest. When dealing with a whistleblower or anonymous source, isn’t the basic question the reporter should ask himself is whether publishing this information will serve the public interest?

    In general, the societal presumption is that more information is in the public interest; get all the facts and arguments out there and let people make up their own mind. But when you’re talking about grand jury proceedings, there is a VERY GOOD REASON those are among the most confidential proceedings that take place in our country. So again, the reporter needs to ask – am I really serving the public interest by repeating these allegations about what was said before the grand jury?

    Consider this thought experiment. Let’s say a journalist gets his hands on Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak and now has the power to watch grand jury proceedings, from start to finish, without anyone realizing. Would it be in the public interest for him to report on what he saw in those proceedings? Would it be in the public interest for him to publish a transcript?

    If so, then maybe we need to reconsider the laws that grant such strict secrecy to grand jury proceedings. And if not, I think reporters need to get a lot more serious regarding whether they want to republish partisan leaks about what goes on before the grand jury.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Here’s an observation about the Karl Rove leaks this morning. The AP definitely got one of the leaks. But the only articles integrating that information are a Newsday article (bylining the AP writer) and an MSNBC article citing the AP source but with an MSNBC byline. Is it that everyone else decided not to run a story based on the AP source? Or did AP back off of the story themselves?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Murray Waas seems to be thinking along the same lines as me:

    The coverage underscores the secrecy surrounding Fitzgerald’s grand-jury investigation. The few leaks that constitute public knowledge of the investigation’s progress have largely come from one side: the defense attorneys’. And what they have to say is oftentimes self-serving, misleading, and in some cases untrue. Their all-too-willing collaborators have been the nation’s leading newspapers.

  19. Anonymous says:

    From Waas:

    Luskin asked me to delay publication for a day or two, before deciding on what he wanted to say for the article.

    What an idiot. They’re perjuring themselves–but they don’t even have their stories worked out yet!! Karl Rove may or may not be a genius … but his lawyer is a hack.