Debra J. Saunders

The longest prison term served by a BALCO defendant was four months behind bars -- yet Fainaru-Wada and Williams could face up to 18 months, a full grand-jury term, for reporting leaks about the BALCO case.

Corallo summed up the reporter subpoenas as "a waste of government and taxpayer resources." In an affidavit, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer argued that the reporter subpoenas undermine the state reporter's shield law, which was supported by 75 percent of voters in 1980: "To jail a journalist because he protected his source is an assault not only the press, but on Californians, as well."

Yes, my view is colored by my profession. I know how important it is for sources to believe a journalist's promise to protect their identity.

But I don't argue that reporters are above the law. If Fainaru-Wada and Williams break into someone's home to get information, they should go to jail.

Keker told me, "From the government's point of view, it's a much more serious thing to stand up to the government than it is to commit a crime." Must be true -- otherwise, the feds would want to reserve prison for real criminals.

Debra J. Saunders

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