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What You Tell Me, Stays With Me

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An unnamed source told me of an experience on a golf course. This came to my attention when my trustworthy confidential source returned from San Antonio with the tale.

My unnamed informant’s report went something like this: Last Saturday a man was playing golf at the Willow Springs Golf Course in the Alamo City. While the golfer was searching the weeds and brush for his lost ball, he stumbled over a body. A very dead corpse. (Is there any other kind?)

I am not revealing my source’s name to family, friends or fellow journalists. The source would not talk to real writers, but was willing to share the information with me. Seems my unnamed source knew few people read my columns or pay much attention to my opinions. He felt safe and secure talking to me.

It is not known if a crime was committed. My source was not too clear on details. Should a grand jury be called, we are in the clear for all we know is what we read in the newspaper.

You may have noticed that a New York Times writer is in prison for not writing about something her unnamed source gave her. Seems she did not want to reveal her source for her un-written story. By not revealing her White House source, Judy Miller got four months in jail or until the grand jury cares to reveal the mystery of what it is all about.

Someone at the Bush White House unmasked covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador Joe Wilson. Revealing a secret agent is against federal law.

This charade has been going on two years. Columnist Robert Novak got the ball rolling in 2003 by naming Wilson’s wife as a covert CIA agent. President Bush said he wanted to get to the bottom of this and would fire anyone in his administration who would leak anything.

While Novak revealed the agent’s name, he would not tell his source. Judy Miller did not write a story and would not reveal her source. She goes to jail and Novak remains free. Karl Rove, “Bush’s Brain” (title of a book for those who do not know), is a suspect.

President George Bush said two years ago whoever gave out her name would not work in the White House. I thought that meant he would find out who it was and fire the people responsible.

Now apparently the president has changed his tune to whoever is charged with a crime will be fired.

The tale continues, with the White House in a Nixonian “stonewall” mode, while Judy Miller, the writer who did not “out” anyone, is in jail.

There should be a federal law to protect journalists from having to reveal their sources. Whistle-blowers already have a difficult time righting wrongs. People who have the interest of the country at heart should be able to talk to a reporter and know the authorities will not come down on them as they do in dictatorships.

So now you see why I am careful to honor my sources by not naming them. What you tell me, stays with me.

Britt Towery is a retired Southern Baptist missionary. His opinions appear weekly in the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.