A federal prosecutor demanded Tuesday that Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper testify before a grand jury even though the magazine recently handed over the reporter's confidential notes in the investigation of a leak of a CIA officer's identity.
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald also turned down the request of Cooper and New York Times reporter Judith Miller to be allowed home detention rather than jail for refusing to disclose their sources.
Fitzgerald urged federal judge Thomas F. Hogan to reject requests by the journalists that they be jailed in alternative facilities rather than in a local D.C. jail.
"Journalists are not entitled to promise complete confidentiality -- no one in America is," Fitzgerald wrote in court filings. Special treatment for journalists could "negate the coercive effect contemplated by federal law."
The two journalists could be ordered jailed as early as Wednesday when U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan hears arguments from Fitzgerald and lawyers for the reporters. They each face up to four months in jail, the remainder of the grand jury's term.
Fitzgerald is investigating whether senior administration officials leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to reporters in July 2003 as retaliation after her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence to justify a war with Iraq.
Fitzgerald said Cooper's testimony was still necessary for his investigation even though Time magazine has surrendered the reporter's notes.
Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, spoke with Time's Cooper during that critical week two years ago, his lawyer said last week. But Rove's lawyer said Rove never identified Plame to Cooper in those conversations.
Plame's name first appeared in Robert D. Novak's syndicated column in July 2003, eight days after an opinion piece by Wilson critical of the Bush administration appeared in the Times. Wilson was sent by the CIA in 2002 to investigate allegations that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in the African nation of Niger, and he reported that he found no proof.
Cooper and Miller could be jailed for defying Hogan's order to cooperate with Fitzgerald's investigation. The Supreme Court refused to hear the reporters' appeals of Hogan's order.
After the Supreme Court turned the reporters' case down, Time Inc. announced it would hand over Cooper's confidential notes -- over the reporter's objections. The New York Times issued a statement at the time saying they were "deeply disappointed" by Time's decision to cooperate.
Time urged the federal judge at the time not to jail Cooper, arguing there was no further need for his testimony since the notes, which they said identified his sources, had been surrendered.