Do Americans really want Congress rummaging around in citizens' private phone calls? That's what a Senate special prosecutor seems to think. Someone needs to get hold of this loose cannon before it blows up in the senators' faces -- again.
The flap stems from reports last year by Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio and Timothy Phelps of Newsday of Anita Hill's charge of sexual harassment against Judge Clarence Thomas. The Totenberg and Phelps stories prompted an extraordinary three-day Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that almost derailed Judge Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation. Afterward, his supporters vowed revenge.
Special prosecutor Peter E. Fleming was appointed to examine the unauthorized disclosure but both Ms. Totenberg and Mr. Phelps refused to cooperate. The reporters maintained that it would compromise their ability to gather news if they revealed sources whose information was given on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Fleming then subpoenaed the telephone company records of the journalists' home and business calls.