The Washington Post editorial board chimes in with a lot of hooey about Bob Woodward’s total disgrace, but it all comes down to this:

It’s not in the public interest for reporters to be forced to reveal their confidential sources in cases such as this. That’s why Post reporter Bob Woodward should not be vilified for protecting the identity of his source in this complex affair. [emphasis added]

That assertion is 99% false. What is the 1%? The one percent is merely the fact that the outing of sources in the Plame case may have the indirect effect of discouraging some whistleblowers. It shouldn’t, but it might.

Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and other unnamed sources in the Plame investigation did not do the public any service in leaking the identity of an undercover CIA officer. The investigation has cost a lot of money. It has caused intense resentment within the intelligence community. It served to distort the public debate rather than to clarify it. Protecting these sources does not serve the public interest. It amounts to obstruction of justice.

The media should abide by a simple rule when using confidential sources. Is the source precluded from going on the record through fear of retaliation? Or are the just afraid of taking accountability for their actions?

In the case of Mark Felt, the famous Deep Throat, he may have had selfish or petty reasons for leaking to Bob Woodward. But he also knew that he would lose his job and his access if he went on the record. Woodward was fully justified in keeping the source and his ulterior motives secret. But this is not the case in the Plame investigation. Woodward has allowed essential information in this investigation to remain secret from the prosecutor, from his editors, from the reporters at his paper that were covering the story, and he continues to keep this information from the public.

Not only that, but he has gone the extra mile to diminish the importance of the investigation at the same time he was obstructing it.

The Washington Post should be asking why Woodward chose to pressure his source to come forward after Libby was indicted. Fitzgerald should be asking whether Woodward’s public proclamations were signals to potential targets that he would be a friendly witness. Woodward’s hands are not clean and his relationship with the Washington Post should be severed. His actions represent a total breach of ethics and trust. They may even constitute a crime.

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