Free Scooter Libby!

If leaks are sacred, why are leakers punished by everyone?

Mark Wilson / Getty

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, is on trial for lying under oath during an investigation into CIA employee Valerie Plame Wilson's blown cover.

There is no holier icon in the church of the First Amendment than the anonymous leak. Ever since columnist Robert Novak published the identity of a CIA officer nearly four years ago, voices of journalism have delivered sermon after sermon about the centrality of leaks not just to journalism but to democracy itself: We need leaks to keep the government honest.

In order to encourage leaks, it follows, reporters must be able to guarantee anonymity to their sources. And in order to protect that anonymity, journalists must be excused from the ordinary duties of citizenship, such as testifying in a criminal investigation.

It has been...

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