Like your editors, I believe strongly in a free press. It is the bastion of a free nation. Nevertheless, your Nov. 15 editorial "Respecting Sources" misses an essential basis for such a press.

The use of anonymous sources has become excessive. Rather than enabling accurate reporting, this Frankenstein is far too often enabling manipulative government officials and others to use the media to convey slurs, trial balloons and propaganda.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller's "high government officials" led the public to believe, tragically, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and next, that these had subsequently moved to Syria (potentially paving the way for a similarly disastrous invasion of another weak, and therefore vulnerable, country). It used to be that anonymous sources were rarely and very cautiously used. It is essential that we return to rigorously sourced journalism. Lives depend on it, as does our democracy.

-- Alison Weir

Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of If Americans Knew, a nonprofit educational organization that focuses on Middle East issues.

While I can understand newspapers' defense of reporters' right of confidentiality with regard to their sources, both The Post and special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald seem to be skating all over the edges of the case in question and avoiding the center: the illegal outing of a covert CIA agent by people in the Bush administration to Robert D. Novak, who published the story. Mysteriously, hardly anyone ever mentions Novak. It is unclear what his position is vis-a-vis the investigation.

-- Nina Contini Melis