It’s always something of a surprise when someone you know becomes involved in a public controversy of some sort, especially when legal matters are involved. Never was I more shocked than when I read that James Rosen, Chief Washington Correspondent of Fox News, was named by the Justice Department as a possible criminal “co-conspirator” for his alleged role in publishing sensitive security information.

James Rosen is a friend of mine. I’ve known him about eight years; I’ve edited several excellent articles he wrote, shared some meals, and swapped some emails, some of which, I gather, have now been read by the FBI. I know him to be a meticulous reporter, a person of good judgment, the author of a deeply researched biography of John Mitchell that has convinced me that Nixon’s Attorney General got a bum rap in Watergate, an enthusiastic expert on a number of subjects ranging from William F. Buckley Jr. to the Beatles, a gifted mimic, an even more gifted caricaturist, and a good family man. James is probably my most conservative friend–I saw John Bolton at James’s book party, but I smelled no sulphur–but he is not a dogmatist.

The Justice Department can go to hell. James is getting legally muscled because the government wants to stop leakers, and thinks the best way to stop leakers is to criminalize the people who report the leaks, that is, reporters. It is shocking that this action is being performed by the Obama administration; one had such higher expectations of Obama, although no more. Once again we see that power does corrupt. And this why we need people like Rosen, because when we have stars in our eyes we are often blind to the limitations of public officials in whom we have invested our hopes and aspirations. Our leaders are only human, susceptible to temptation, and therefore must be watched, watched, watched, by leakers, and by reporters.

Add this to the AP debacle, and it seems clear that someone in the administration has gone badly off the rails. Obama needs to dump Eric Holder, and pronto. I stand with Rosen.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. He has been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor.