Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 14, 2005

Focus on politics misses the point of Plame fiasco

I felt I had to write after reading Julie Hirschfeld Davis' front-page article about the Karl Rove controversy ("Democrats spin conspiracy theory around Rove," July 12). The whole thing reads as if unidentified "liberal groups" and Democrats are churning a vast conspiracy to tarnish Mr. Rove (as if we should feel sorry for him) and President Bush.

And it doesn't even get to the important revelation - that an internal Time magazine e-mail and Mr. Rove's attorney have confirmed Mr. Rove's involvement in the Valerie Plame incident - until well into the article.

It was irresponsible and lazy for The Sun to run the story it did - and so prominently - one that only reinforces the deep political divisions in Washington.

Of course Democrats are jumping on Mr. Rove, and Republicans are accusing Democrats of smear tactics. What else would one expect?

This is not news, it's not surprising, and we'd have the same exact situation - with Republican and Democratic roles reversed - were the sitting president a Democrat.

Why not focus instead on the serious nature of what Mr. Rove is accused of doing and what a political bombshell this is for the White House?

Angela Schaeffer

Baltimore

There appears to be no need to "spin" anything regarding Karl Rove's involvement in the Valerie Plame matter.

By his own lawyer's admission, Mr. Rove spoke to a journalist about Ms. Plame's role at the CIA.

That admission alone should be sufficient to pursue a charge against Mr. Rove for violating the law against disclosing classified information.

And it is simply ludicrous to suggest that Mr. Rove was not trying to disclose Ms. Plame's identity.

Sarah King Scott

Monkton

Rove should resign over his role in leak

When Karl Rove told Matthew Cooper of Time that former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV's wife worked for the CIA, Mr. Rove either did or did not know that she was a covert agent ("Rove's role in CIA case thorny for White House," July 13).

If he did know, then he may have committed a felony, and should resign.

If he didn't know, then he leaked the identity of a CIA employee without checking to see whether she was a covert agent - putting political advantage over any regard for either Valerie Plame's life or the national security of the United States - and should resign.

Vincent Daly

Baltimore

Journalistic privilege is rooted in case law

In criticizing two reporters for refusing to name confidential sources in the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame, Steve Chapman commits unprofessional hyperbole by asserting that their defense was "based on a legal privilege that exists only in the fertile imagination of journalists" ("Journalists claim imaginary legal privilege," Opinion

Commentary, July 6)

The leading case on a journalist's obligation to testify before a grand jury, Branzburg v. Hayes in 1972, was decided 5-4. So four U.S. Supreme Court justices shared the journalists' "fertile imagination."

And it can be argued that Branzburg was in fact a 4-4-1 decision. Justice Lewis Powell, who joined in the majority opinion, also wrote a separate concurring opinion in which he sought to "emphasize what seems to me the limited nature of the court's holding."

He added: "The asserted claim to privilege should be judged on its facts by the striking of a proper balance between freedom of the press and the obligation of all citizens to give relevant testimony with respect to criminal conduct."

Since then, a number of federal judges have followed Justice Powell's advice and tried to strike a "proper balance." Others have rejected that path. That suggests a debatable legal principle surely, but it's hardly a product of journalists' "fertile imagination."

The cases of Matthew Cooper, who ultimately was released from his obligation to protect his source, and Judith Miller, who went to jail, present issues that are not cut and dried, even for a First Amendment zealot like me.

There is still a great deal we do not know about what is really involved in this case, since its facts are protected by grand jury secrecy.

But those of us who cherish freedom of the press understand that its protections are for the public's benefit, not for those who practice journalism.

And those who practice it have an obligation to do their homework before sounding off.

James S. Keat

Baltimore

The writer is a former editor and ombudsman for The Sun.

Choosing a moderate would betray base

Liberals are suggesting that President Bush can "unify" the country if he will pick moderates to fill Supreme Court vacancies ("Judicial choice offers chance to unite the nation," letters, July 9). However, the only thing such an action would do is to embolden the Democrats to make demands on other issues.

Those who voted for the president stated their desire for the more conservative court he promised to provide during the campaign.

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