Monday, June 11, 2007

In a World Where Transparency is Cruelty

The NY Times picks up the story about Washington's elite writing letters of support to the judge in the Libby trial.

The first half of the article is dripping in sarcasm, which I'd guess is rooted in disgust at having to write about filthy bloggers. The second half is friendlier and even includes a quote from Fire Dog Lake, the blog that provided daily updates from the Libby trial:

Marcy Wheeler, one of the bloggers who helped cover the trial for Firedoglake, said the argument concerning mockery indicated that the Libby legal team “may be frustrated by the amount of attention paid on this trial that otherwise wouldn’t have been paid.”

“If you want to dismiss transparency,” she said, “just talk about bloggers."

The article has one author. Maybe it's a pre- and post-coffee thing. Whatever the case, the Times misses the boat on a couple of things.

First, forcing transparency in the Libby trial isn't about being mean and sarcastic. It's about uncovering truths that the media would otherwise happily leave under layers of administration distractions (e.g. The assertion that Plame wasn't covert when she clearly was, or the talking point that Libby's crime was "soft."). It's a study in how information can get to people when traditional media doesn't suffice. The method of information outflow is new and apparently uncomfortable for those who want things kept on a need-to-know basis. But, when have the powerful not whined about having their dirty secrets laid bare?

Second, the letter from Wolfowitz isn't just hypocritical because of his own problems at the World Bank. His letter of support clearly indicates Libby's guilt!

Finally, the Times leaves out the judge's response to the enormous show of support Libby's received:

It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these eminent academics' willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.