7 Days: Tell Or Jail For Reporters

New York Times reporter Judith Miller, left, and Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper talk to reporters outside federal court in Washington in this Dec. 8, 2004 file photo. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce Monday, June 27, 2005, if they will hear appeals from the two journalists - who may face jail time for refusing to disclose their sources. AP

A federal judge told two reporters they should be prepared to go to jail next Wednesday if they do not reveal their sources in the leak of a CIA officer's identity.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan gave New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper a one-week extension after both said they would not comply with the court's order to disclose their sources in the leak of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

In addition, Time continues to be fined for not turning over information on the leak, which may include Cooper's notes. But at Wednesday's hearing, the magazine's lawyers said Time is considering turning over to federal prosecutors Cooper's notes, which the magazine controls.

Hogan said he would rule next Wednesday on the fate of Miller and Cooper, following courtroom arguments from lawyers for the reporters on why their clients should not be ordered to jail. But he expressed skepticism that any new arguments would change his mind.

"It's curiouser and curiouser; I don't understand" why the reporters are asking for more time, Hogan said.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the reporters' appeal.

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, has been investigating who in the Bush administration leaked Plame's identity days after her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly undercut the president's rationale for invading Iraq.

Cooper said he hopes Time does not choose to turn over his notes. Fitzgerald said that the documents are Cooper's notes of his interviews.

"On balance, I think I'd prefer they not turn over the documents but Time can make that decision for itself," Cooper said outside the courthouse.

Theodore Boutrous, an attorney representing Time magazine, told the judge, "We don't want to reargue this case."

The magazine hopes to "avoid this crisis and journalists going to jail," Boutrous added.

Robert Bennett, representing Miller, told the judge in asking for more time that "it's a big step to put two people in jail who have committed no crimes."

After Hogan held Miller, Cooper and the magazine in contempt, an appeals court rejected their argument that the First Amendment shielded them from revealing their sources. On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to consider the case.

Expressing his impatience, Hogan said, "It seems to me the time has come."

"Much more delay and we will be at the end of the grand jury," Hogan said.

The grand jury investigating the leak expires in October and the reporters, if in jail, would be freed at that time.

Columnist Robert Novak revealed Plame's identity. Cooper wrote a story subsequently about Plame, while Miller did some reporting but did not write a story. Novak has not commented on the fact that he has not been found in contempt. Novak told CNN he "will reveal all" after the matter is resolved, adding that it is wrong for the government to jail journalists.
  • Dan Collins

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