Debra J. Saunders

 A year later, the investigation lives. Novak won't say if he has been subpoenaed or has testified before a grand jury, but The New York Times reported that four reporters -- none of whom broke the Plame story -- were subpoenaed and testified before the grand jury. Since Fitzgerald compelled federal employees to sign agreements waiving any confidentiality agreements with journalists, U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan has argued that reporters must testify. That's bad news for whistle-blowers.

 When attorneys for New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who had talked to confidential sources, protested, Hogan wrote, "Although Ms. Miller never wrote an article about Ambassador Joseph Wilson or his wife Valerie Plame, she contemplated writing one."

 Think about that.

 The worst of it is, it is not clear a crime has been committed. Former federal prosecutor Victoria Toensing said this: "I don't think they have a crime." Federal law requires that the CIA take "affirmative measures" to hide Plame's identity, or there was no crime. There is reason to believe the CIA did not protect her identity or that the leakers did not know Plame's status, another element necessary for a conviction.

 In the meantime, innocent reporters have been thrown before a grand jury, pressured to air confidential information. While lefties who hate Bush may enjoy the prospect, the net result easily could be a drought on leaks that damage Bush as well. Again, the left is too clever for its own good.

 As happens, Fitzgerald's office wouldn't say how much the investigation has cost or why it cares to subpoena reporters who didn't out Plame. So I will leave it to you, dear reader, to try to imagine how much money and energy has been spent on this inquisition when these resources could go toward investigating terrorists, organized crime or white-collar criminals.

 An apology. A reader pointed out my error in calling France and Germany "gun-shy" in my Sept. 28 column, "With friends like this ... " after both nations sent troops to Afghanistan. While I take strong issue with France, especially for undermining U.S. efforts to win a U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force against a non-compliant Saddam Hussein -- the passage of which might have changed history -- I was guilty of doing what I accused Kerry of doing -- that is, not appreciating U.S. allies' contributions. I take it back.

Debra J. Saunders

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