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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Cut the shit

Please don't put me in jail

Judge Warns Reporters They Face Jail in a Week

WASHINGTON, June 29 - With mounting frustration and a hint of anger, a federal judge said at a hearing Wednesday that he would send two reporters to jail in one week if they did not agree to testify before a grand jury about their confidential sources in the meantime.

Lawyers for the reporters, Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, said their clients would accept jail time rather than testify.

The judge, Thomas F. Hogan of Federal District Court here, added that he would also impose very large fines against Time Inc., in an effort to force the company to obey a court order directing it to turn over documents in the investigation.

A lawyer for Time Inc., Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., told Judge Hogan the company was still considering whether to comply with the order.

"We are grappling with those issues," Mr. Boutrous said. "Time is part of a public company and has a deliberative process to work through these issues."

The grand jury is looking into the possibly unlawful disclosure of the identity of a covert C.I.A. operative, Valerie Plame.

Judge Hogan expressed surprise that a public company like Time Warner, Time Inc.'s parent, would even consider violating a final court order. The Supreme Court turned down appeals in the case on Monday.

"The only way we operate in this society, in a democratic society, is by the rule of law and to have people obey court orders," Judge Hogan said.

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the case, said Time has no choice but to comply with the order.

"I don't understand what Time can deliberate about," he said. "They don't have a right to break the law. We shouldn't allow people to think that court orders are sort of optional."

In court on Wednesday, Mr. Fitzgerald said that Time has a moral and legal obligation to assist in the investigation.

"This case is not about a whistleblower," he said. "This case is about a potential retaliation against a whistle-blower."

Judge Hogan directed the reporters and Time to file papers by Friday about where the reporters should be jailed and the size of the fine. He said the fine, which had been $1,000 a day but was suspended pending appeals, may be made retroactive and is likely to increase to "a very large sum."

posted by Steve @ 12:29:00 AM

12:29:00 AM

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