The New York Times has been accused of tipping off Islamic “charities” when they were about to be raided by the government for funding terrorism. Last week, the New York went running to Ruth Bader Ginsburg for help (thanks to Wizbang):
The New York Times asked the Supreme Court yesterday to bar a federal prosecutor from reviewing the phone records of two of its reporters. The records, lawyers for The Times said, would allow the government to learn the identities of many of the reporters’ confidential sources.
The case arose from a Chicago grand jury’s investigation into who told the two reporters, Judith Miller and Philip Shenon, about actions the government was planning to take in 2001 against two Islamic charities. The United States attorney in Chicago, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, sought the reporters’ records directly from their phone companies, and The Times filed suit to stop him.
In August, a divided three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled in favor of Mr. Fitzgerald, saying the reporters were not entitled to shield their sources. The needs of law enforcement, the majority said, outweighed any protections the reporters might have in the First Amendment or other areas of law.
Ms. Miller left the paper last year after spending 85 days in jail in connection with a separate leak investigation, also supervised by Mr. Fitzgerald.
The paper’s filing yesterday was a limited one, seeking an order from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg staying the appeals court decision until the Supreme Court has an opportunity to decide whether to hear the case. The deadline for seeking review of the appeals court’s decision is in January, but The Times said it would move faster.
In a letter filed in response to yesterday’s application, the Justice Department said it “desires to review the records in question as expeditiously as possible” but agreed not to do so until Wednesday. Yesterday afternoon, the court ordered the government to submit a formal response to the stay application by today at 4 p.m.
The press has been on a losing streak of late in the federal courts, with several decisions refusing to recognize protection for confidential sources. The Supreme Court has not weighed in on the question since 1972.
I have to admit that I was surprised when Ginsburg refused to intervene and when the New York Times reported yesterday:
The United States Supreme Court refused today to stop a federal prosecutor from reviewing the telephone records of two reporters for The New York Times. The records, the paper said, include information about many of the reporters’ confidential sources.
In a one-sentence order offering no reasoning and noting no dissenting votes, the Supreme Court rejected a request from The Times to stay a lower court’s decision while the paper tried to persuade the high court to review the case.
Today’s order effectively allows the United States attorney in Chicago, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, to begin reviewing the records, which he has already obtained from phone companies, as early as this week.
The Justice Department told the Supreme Court on Friday that Mr. Fitzgerald is under enormous time pressure. “The statute of limitations,” the government said, “will imminently expire on December 3 and 13, 2006, on certain substantive offenses that the grand jury is investigating.”
The grand jury, in Chicago, is looking into who told the two reporters, Judith Miller and Philip Shenon, about actions the government was planning to take in December 2001 against two Islamic charities in Illinois and Texas. The disclosures to the reporters, the government lawyers wrote Friday, may have amounted to obstruction of justice.
Judith Miller is quoted as saying, “Today’s decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for the press in the federal courts. “It’s more bad news for the First Amendment,” Ms. Miller said, “and therefore it’s more bad news for the public’s right to know.”
Hey, Judith, quit trying to change the subject. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment or the public’s right to know. It has everything to do with you and your buddies committing treason by releasing national secrets in a time of war and undercutting this nation’s ability to wage war against an enemy which has attacked us on our own soil. How many of our soldiers or innocenct Iraqis died because of these two “charities” supporting the terrorists.
If it were up to me, Miller and Shenon would be busting rocks on a chain gang for the rest of their lives. Same goes for the government sources who tipped them off. If Bush were really savvy, he would have cleaned house in the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the CIA back in 2001.