Attytood does a very good job of explaining why Judy Miller should be in jail and I would encourage you to read it, before launching into any impassioned constitutional arguments.
Although there is much more, here is the crux,
Ultimately, the heart and soul of real journalism is not so much protecting "sources" at any cost. It is, rather, living up to the 19th Century maxim set forth by Peter Finley Dunne, that journalists should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.There is a reason why there has not be a public outcry of Miller or Cooper. They don't think the press is fair or honest and so they don't care about them.
That is why the ability of reporters to keep the identity of their true sources confidential is protected by shield laws in 31 states and the District of Columbia (although not in federal courts). Without such protections, the government official would not be able to report the wrongdoing of a president (remember "Deep Throat," the ultimate confidential source?), nor would the corporate executive feel free to rat out a crooked CEO. The comfortable and corrupt could not be afflicted.
But the Times' Judy Miller has not been afflicting the comfortable. She has been protecting them, advancing their objectives, and helping them to mislead a now very afflicted American public. In fact, thinking again about Watergate and Deep Throat is a good way to understand why Judy Miller should not be protected today. Because in Watergate, a reporter acting like Miller would not be meeting the FBI's Mark Felt in an underground parking garage. She would be obsessively on the phone with H.R. Haldeman or John Dean, listening to malicious gossip about Carl Bernstein or their plans to make Judge Sirica look bad.
And they are right. The press has completely abdicated it's role to always challenge authority. I suspect it is a byproduct of the corporate culture now running the mainstream media.
And while this problem as no doubt been made worse by the events of 9-11, as this story makes clear, the problems didn't start with 9-11.
And the Plame outing, as Attytood points out, is the poster child of this problem. Those being protected were committing a political drive by shooting to get revenge for a whistleblower.
To those concerned that Millers time in jail may have a chilling effect, I certainly hope so.
Let this case be a lesson to those reporters all too willing to be stooges for partisans who serve up distortions and out right lies as well as character assassinations and libels. You better think long and hard about your anonymous sources, their motives and the truth, because you may be called upon to have the courage of your convictions and actually do the time to protect the source.
If the reporter was protecting someone who leaked evidence of fraud, ala the Pentagon Papers, does anyone really think we would be where we are today?
Judith Miller can route in jail for all I care.