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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Journalists Must Not Be Partners in Crime

August 17, 2004

In your Aug. 13 editorial "All Leaks Are Not Alike," you note that sometimes journalists may be too "promiscuous" with offers of anonymity to their sources. The issue here is not really about the shield law, it is that a crime has been committed, and whether a reporter who knowingly publishes information that violates the national security laws has crossed the line. After all, if the journalists did not publish this information (which violates national security), the crime would have been moot.

I contend that journalists can neither hide behind the shield laws nor claim ignorance of the security laws. What they should now be made to realize is that the shield law does not, and should not, protect them from becoming partners in the crimes of their informants.

Selwyn Enzer

Los Angeles

I am not a lawyer, but I grew up with the idea that freedom of speech did not extend to yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater. Therefore I would assume that freedom of the press should not extend to a reporter's right to aid and abet a felony, and then hide behind the Constitution.

William Ash

Santa Monica

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