EVEN with the continuing in-depth coverage of the 7/7 London bombings in the UK media, word has filtered through about the remarkable accusations being made against Karl Rove, President Bush's top political advisor. It is alleged, and denied, that Mr Rove revealed the name of a covert CIA agent to Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine journalist. If he did do that, Mr Bush would have no alternative but to dismiss Mr Rove because when this case first surfaced in a general way he said that anyone in government who named a covert CIA agent could not continue in office. Complex circumlocutions are being used by everyone concerned and no doubt the investigation set up by Mr Bush will clarify these in due course. The agent who was named happened to be the wife of a former ambassador, Joseph Wilson, who had publicly criticised President Bush's Iraq policy. Meanwhile, however, a journalist named Judith Miller who writes for the New York Times and was also researching the CIA agent-naming story, is languishing in jail because she refused to tell the special prosecutor investigating the case the name of the official who briefed her about the CIA agent and Mr Rove. Last week a federal judge told Ms Miller that she was defying the law by refusing to divulge her confidential source. She said in court: The freest and fairest societies are not only those with independent judiciaries, but those with an independent press that works every day to keep the government accountable by publishing what the government might not want the public to know. Judith Miller was shackled on her hands and feet and taken to jail, and remains there. The unwritten law that journalists should be able to protect their sources without penalty ensures that significant information comes to public attention, as in the case of the Watergate deep throat source whose information helped to bring President Richard Nixon down. But the convention is increasingly being challenged by politicians and others. Judith Miller is making an important point by her silence and her newspaper is supporting her 100 per cent.
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