Past Event

Scooter Libby, Iraq & Freedom of the Press

Guest Speaker Announcement:

This week Café Society is excited to announce we will be hosting guest speakers in two locations! Author Jamie Kalven will join the conversation at Valois and journalist Kari Lydersen will join us at Pause .

For more information about our speakers and details on location see below.

Scooter Libby, Iraq & Freedom of the Press

The trial in the case of the United States of America v. I. Lewis Libby began on January 16, 2007. “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, was indicted in the federal investigation into the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name to the media. Just prior to the leak, Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, a U.S. diplomat and opponent to the war in Iraq, published an op-ed in the New York Times which challenged President Bush’s assertion that Saddam Hussein was in possession of nuclear materials.

The political nature of this investigation has been debated from the beginning. As the trial draws to a close, many questions regarding the significance of the investigation and potential verdict remain. How central is the case to the larger story of the war in Iraq? Was the leak part of an effort to silence credible opposition to the invasion? Has this trial affected the Bush administration’s credibility? Could it potentially lead to an impeachment of the President? Given that Plame was not undercover at the time, is this simply much ado about nothing or a politically motivated showdown?

An additional, yet principal, defendant in this case has been the “fourth branch of government,” the press. The notion of journalistic privilege has been under fire in this case since the first indictments were issued by the grand jury. Several journalists have been forced to reveal their anonymous sources, including Tim Russert, Bob Woodward, and, most notably, Judith Miller, who spent 85 days in prison after initially refusing to comply. Do journalists deserve the protection of a shield law?

Shield laws, in place in 31 states and currently being considered in four others, ensure the confidentiality of those who speak to the press. Advocates argue that without shield laws the media is impotent as a check on the power of the government. In the Libby case, many who normally would support reporters’privilege strongly contend thatthe media should not be protecting the government. Do shield laws create a balance or imbalance of power?

Join us this week at CaféSociety to share your thoughts on the implications of the Scooter Libby trial.

This Week’s Articles:

An Unnecessary Investigation

Bush Admin Lies: Iraq & Iran

How Reporters Helped Lead Us to War

Under oath

More A bout Jamie Kalven & Kari Lydersen

Jamie Kalven brings an unusual perspective to First Amendment issues. Early in his career, he spent more than a decade completing A Worthy Tradition: Freedom of Speech in America(1988),an intellectual history of the First Amendment. More recently, Kalven found himself at the center of a free speech controversy. In connection with a federal civil rights suit arising out of his reporting on allegations of police brutality, the City of Chicago subpoenaed his notes and other documents. Afterhe refusedto comply, the City moved to have him held in contempt.

Kari Lydersen is a staff writer at The Washington Post out of the midwest bureau and freelances for publications including In These Times , the Chicago Reader , The New Standard and The Progressive . She is also a journalism instructor at Columbia College-Chicago and teaches through the youth non-profit group, We the People Media. She specializes in covering immigration, Latin America and environmental issues including mining and coal-fired power plants. More info at

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.