Thoughts about the Judith Miller Imprisonment

Particular attention has been focused on the outcome of United States
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Case No. 04-3138. This
is the decision that has ordered Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper to
inform the government of their source for the leak of Valerie Plame's
identity as a CIA operative.

However, as wrong as that outcome was, there are other aspects of
this case that demand an extraordinary level of scrutiny in public
discourse. Special, detailed, and focused, attention should be paid
to pages 72 through 78 of the above decision, which contain the core
arguments of why the journalists should be jailed. Everyone should
be deeply concerned about what is on those pages, which is: nothing.
That's right, these pages are blank. At the request of U.S. attorney
Patrick Fitzgerald, the core arguments of why Judith Miller can be
placed under arrest are secret. What is even more shocking is
that the Judge has allowed this request.

How then can we know what the rules are? How can we citizens
function in an alleged democracy, forming informed opinions about
matters of public importance? The answer is, of course, we can't.
With regards to this issue (and many more like it) it appears that
the spoken word of the executive branch is the only admissible
source of law and truth. Those with power apparently believe that
the maximum exercise and extension of that power, be it arbitrary,
belligerent and arrogant, is the way to solve their problems.

Even if this were an isolated event, it would certainly be a cause
for concern. Therefore, the question of whether this is an isolated
event or whether there exists a larger pattern can not go unasked.
Consider this: Rather than engage in a public, honest debate about
global warming, the Administration has had the scientific conclusion
of it own EPA scientists expunged from a critical report for reasons
they themselves refuse to clearly articulate. The position paper
of the U.S. for the recent G-8 summit (leaked to the press)
allowed the U.S. team no room to negotiate on the administration's
beliefs that there was no urgency to address Global Warming.
Never mind that the Academies of Science of all G-8 countries
have issued statements that it is, in fact, critical to address Global
Warming now. As the Republican Governor of California has said:
"The debate is over. We know the science. We see the threat posed
by changes in our climate. And we know the time for action is now."
So everyone knows this, but the administration still bullied the other
members of the G-8 to produce a watered down half-truth, easily
forgotten. Never mind that the future of my children is being
very greatly diminished by inaction on this issue.

Damn Kyoto--even if it is the consensus of the rest world--full
speed ahead. Public Opinion about the war in Iraq isn't important.
Stay the Course. Send our military to a foreign land to fight a
war for a lie. The Will will Triumph, won't it? Remember, Stay
the Course. It's hard work. But don't remember a single
instance when you've made a mistake. That would destroy the
illusion--do you want anyone to see the man behind the curtain?

I see a dangerous and very slippery slope here, that needs to be
approached with caution and urgency in equal measure, as we pry
this administration away from power, through the process of
Impeachment. Why? The pattern of behavior I see is this:
don't use argument, don't use truth, don't use science, don't listen
to your CIA analysts, or the French, or the Scientists, use power.
Power, what this administration understands and (ab)uses, all
to well. The problem is arbitrary exercise of power has always,
and will again, lead to the a reaction against that power, which
those in power will, predictably but unfortunately, answer with
a greater extension of that power. The Bush Administration
has displayed a singular inability to learn any lessons from their
failures in Iraq. It is not an accident that the primary failure in
Iraq was to (not) imagine how human beings react to the exercise
of power.

And I look, in vain, for any sign that those in power are not
about to repeat the same pattern of errors here, in America...


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