By: Joe Strupp
When Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times return late Wednesday afternoon to face the federal judge who ordered them to jail last fall for refusing to reveal confidential sources, two different outcomes may emerge.
While New York Times officials have maintained that Miller will not reveal the source who leaked to her the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, a source close to Time Inc. told E&P that the company is considering handing over documents that would reveal the source.
Cooper declined to comment.
Ted Olson, the lead attorney for Time, would not confirm or deny that report, saying “decisions have not been made in terms of what Time will do if the judge reaffirms the order. Both Time and Matt Cooper are reserving judgment on what they will do. There is no point in making a decision before it is necessary.”
Asked if Time Inc. was considering revealing the source, via documents, Dawn Bridges, senior VP for communications, declined comment.
Cooper and Miller face up to 18 months in jail for refusing to name the source or sources who leaked the identity of Plame to them. Following a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday not to hear the case, the pair returns Wednesday to U.S District Court Judge Thomas Hogan, who found them in contempt last fall.
The New York Times reiterated its position Monday that it would not reveal the source in a statement that said, in part, “we fully support the position of Judith Miller and her decision to honor the commitment she made to her sources.”
For Time, however, the response was somewhat different, with a statement Monday that seemed to leave room for a different result, pointing out that circumstances may have changed since the contempt of court order was given by Hogan late last year. “We think it premature for Time Inc. and Matt Cooper to articulate final positions until Judge Hogan has ruled on our request for review and reassessment,” the statement said in part.
Olson added that his clients had several options. “The options are cooperating or Cooper going to jail and Time paying a fine of $1,000 per day,” he said. “They have not made a decision.”
In addition to ordering the reporters to jail, Hogan also ordered Time to pay a $1,000-per-day fine for each day that the source’s identity is withheld. The Times was not hit with such a fine.