Some of you may recall former New York Times columnist Judith Miller spending 12 weeks in jail for contempt of court after she refused to reveal to a federal grand jury her source to federal prosecutors concerning Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA employee. Miller was a conservative columnist for the Times (a bit of an oxymoron) when syndicated columnist Robert Novak outed Plame's CIA identity following her husband Joe Wilson revealing his silly role in the Bush administration's efforts to tie Sadam Hussein to non-existent weapons of mass destruction as a foil for going to war with the country following 9/11. Miller, who learned of Plame's identity from Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, had never written about Plame's identity as Novak had. Novak had already revealed his source to the federal prosecution team headed up by Patrick Fitzgerald as State Department Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage, but that didn't matter to Fitzgerald because he was only interested at the time in penning the blame for outing Plame on Libby.
A federal judge released Miller from jail after Libby waived Miller's privileged communications with him. Miller turned over to the grand jury her notes from a meeting she had with Libby a few weeks before Novak's column was published. Like so many of innacurate columns she wrote advancing the agenda of those within our government who were itching for war with Iraq, Miller didn't even get Plame's correct name. Her notes identified her as Valerie "Flame." Miller became the star witness for Fitzgerald's prosecution of Libby where he secured his conviction on charges unrelated to outing Plame's identity for obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements to federal investigators. President George W. Bush later commuted Libby's 30-month sentence. The trial confirmed that Armitage had indeed been the source of the original leak, but Fitzgerald, nonetheless, felt compelled to prosecute Libby for charges unrelated to his original investigation just for spite. No charges were brought against Armitage or any other official.
Flash forward to the public corruption case of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a case which Fitzgerald also headed up as Chicago's top federal prosecutor. In that case, Fitzgerald's office had hundreds of hours of recorded phone conversations Blagojevich had made pursuant to a federal wiretap order he had obtained during the course of his investigation, which included charges that Blagojevich had attempted to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, from which he resigned shortly after his election as President. A federal judge ordered all but a relatively small number of those phone conversations sealed from the public, except for those selectively chosen for use by the government at Blagojevich's trial. Blagojevich always insisted that tapes prosecutors objected to and which a federa judge agreed to block from admission as testimony would have proven his innocence on the charge he was guilty of attempting to sell Obama's Senate seat.
As key members of Obama's transition team began communicating with Blagojevich, including Obama himself, about the Senate seat, and as former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson readied a team of campaign supporters ready to ink a deal to purchase the seat with campaign contributions, Fitzgerald's office decided to leak to Chicago Tribune reporter's John Chase and Jeff Coen the fact that federal investigators had wiretapped the governor's phone lines and had caught him attempting to sell Obama's Senate seat, which the two reporters then relayed to the governor before breaking the news in an exclusive story in the Tribune.
Despite the federal court order sealing the Blagojevich wiretaps and transcripts, Tribune reporters Chase and Coen claim in the their book, "Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself Out of the Governor's Office and Into Prison," that they were given access by Fitzgerald's office to all of the tapes and transcripts. The two insist that they proved Blagojevich's guilt, not his innocence as he and his attorneys have claimed. The U.S. Attorney's Office disputes the claim that the two reporters were given access to the wiretaps or transcripts. So if Chase and Coen gained access to material protected from disclosure by a protective order issued by a federal judge, why was there no prosecution of the two or the person within the government responsible for the illegal leak by the same federal prosecutor who saw fit to jail Judith Miller for simply refusing to give up her source? Fitzgerald's duplicity is a question Illinois Pay to Play's Thomas Barton keeps asking about but nobody else in the media seems to care about. Isn't it time someone got to the bottom of why these two reporters had access to conversations deemed protected from public access? I for one would like to hear what Blagojevich had to say to people like Obama, Rahm Emanuel and Valerie Jarrett about that Senate seat.
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