More Justified Piling On Joe Klein

We now know the reason behind Joe Klein’s embarrasingly bad and misleading piece on FISA in this week’s Time, aside from Klein’s laziness and inside-the-Beltway blinders: his central source was right-wing crazy Congressman Peter Hoekstra, last seen claiming that we actually had found WMDs in Iraq.

This much in and of itself might be reason for Klein’s temporary suspension from Time. But, as the Ginsu ad might say: wait, there’s more.

Klein issued a non-correction correction the other day on the Time blog, in which he pretty much skirted around the issue, but said that his source was “an intelligence community source who deals with the FISA Court.”

As John McEnroe would say: you cannot be serious.

If Hoekstra is the source for the article, and if that is the same source as Klein lists here–both plausible assumptions, then Klein has willfully misled his readers into thinking that a right-wing Republican congressman is a member of a professional “intelligence community.” This is a grotesque journalistic corruption, reminiscent of Judith Miller’s agreeing to source Scooter Libby as a “former Hill staffer.”

If this is in fact the case–and the details are still slightly unclear–then Klein should be fired. Not for making a mistake–we all do that. And not for gullibly buying Republican spin, although that would be justification. It would be for essentially lying to 4 million people about the sources he has and their credibility.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.