The Justice Department will pay $5.8 million to the person it implied might be responsible for the 2001 anthrax mailings, former Army scientist Steven Hatfill, the AP reports.
The settlement would seem to end the case, in which former USA Today reporter Toni Locy was threatened with jail and $5,000 per day in fines if she did not reveal confidential sources who leaked to her the Justice Department's suspicions. Contempt charges against Locy, however, have not yet been formally dismissed.
The settlement comes as an embarrassment to the Justice Department not only for its bungling of the anthrax case, but also for its hostility toward journalists who get information from confidential sources, often inside government.
Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of the states' attorneys general have gone on record supporting passage of a pending federal bill to shield reporters from having to identify confidential sources. The Bush administration has opposed the bill. Most states have shield laws.
- "Justice Dept. To Pay Hatfill $5.8 Million To Settle Lawsuit," Associated Press via First Amendment Center, June 30, 2008.
- "Attorneys General Back Federal Media Shield," Associated Press via First Amendment Center, June 20, 2008.