To the casual observer, here’s what the events of the last few days probably looked like: I got a subpoena from the Department of Homeland Security, I called my lawyer, refused to give up the name of my source(s) and the government caved in. But appearances can sometimes be deceiving.
Behind the scenes, I had a team of friends, allies and advisers who helped. I’d like to thank them publicly.
My lawyer Anthony Elia was my first call and flawlessly handled this case from start to finish. He was supported by a team of attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. A special thanks to Mark Holscher, who offered some early and critically important legal advice.
I’m also very grateful to my current clients, including National Geographic, The Washington Post and MSNBC. Although I didn’t publish the security directive on their behalf and technically wasn’t entitled to any protection by their legal staff, they were deeply concerned about the Department of Homeland Security’s actions. They also had my back. That was reassuring.
I’m reluctant to name all of the bloggers who came to my aid (I’m afraid I will miss someone). Ditto for all my friends on Twitter who immediately retweeted my posts about being served. I’m so thankful for each and every one of you for your interest and concern. Without your support, I couldn’t have made it through the last few days.
I also wanted to mention a few people by name.
• Judy Miller, who covered this story for FOX News. Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating a leak naming Valerie Plame as a covert CIA agent in 2005. Talking with her about my options was very helpful. After my ordeal, I share her desire to pass a federal shield law for journalists.
• Steve Frischling, the other blogger served with a subpoena. Our many conversations during the last few days have kept me halfway sane. It was reassuring to know that I wasn’t alone in this predicament, although I think the DHS didn’t do itself any favors by treating Fish like a criminal. Something tells me they haven’t heard the last of him.
• Special Agent Robert Flaherty of the Department of Homeland Security, who served me with the subpoena. He was a true professional. What’s more, the kids thought he was cool (well, he had a badge) and our normally shy cats took a liking to him. My three-year-old daughter even asked us after his visit if “grandpa” was coming back (my answer: “I certainly hope not, dear”). Agents like Flaherty make DHS look good and they give me hope that the TSA can find its way once again.
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank the readers and underwriters of this site for their steadfast support. You are the best.
And to my family, who lost their Daddy for a few days in subpoena-land: Kids, I’ll make it up to you this year. Promise.
(Photo: Ali A/Flickr Creative Commons)