Courtroom Drama: Joseph Wilson Liar Case
Bummer is getting a kick out of reading the media reports about the Libby trial. Former NYTimes reporter Judith Miller testified yesterday; today, there will be a showdown: Will the judge allow the defendant to question Miller about her other sources?
The press loves immunity, and they are apoplectic over the idea that any brownshirt federal judge or prosecutor can come between a reporter and his/her "sources." Without absolute immunity (which means, no entity has power to police the relationship), argue the media lawyers, our free press will be permanently damaged in its ability to act as the 4th estate.
This is hyperbolic crap, as I've written about many times. In the instant case, the defandant's lawyer put it perfectly to the judge, in effect stating that reporters should be subject to the same rules as everyone else in society; a press card does not amount to immunity:
Mr. Libby's attorneys were adamant about asking Ms. Miller about other sources. Mr. Jeffress told the judge, "I think she's going to say she couldn't remember which is very important to her credibility."
Theodore V. Wells Jr., one of Mr. Libby’s lawyers, argued that Ms. Miller should be asked the questions so Mr. Libby could have an opportunity to impeach her credibility.
“This is nothing more than classic 101 impeachment,” Mr. Wells said. “I don’t think we have a First Amendment collision at this point.”
The specific factual issue upon which Miller was skewered yesterday, was that in earlier grand jury testimony, she did not mention a 2-hour meeting with Libby at a hotel. At this trial, she testified in detail about the meeting.
Classic defense tactic - and likely a direct constutional right of the defendant* - is to have the opportunity to impeach a witness in open court. Should the defendant be denied this 6th Amendment right, in deference to the 1st Amendment mandate of a free press**?
Thugs on trial. Love it.
* - The 6th Amendment provides: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."
** - The 1st Amendment provides: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."