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Why Settle the Wen Ho Lee Case?

Apparently, Wen Ho Lee’s civil suit charging the government abused his privacy rights is close to being settled.

Intensive settlement negotiations between former nuclear scientistWen Ho Lee and the U.S. government are delaying — and may ultimatelyavert — action by the Supreme Court on appeals by reporters fightingto protect their confidential sources in the case.

The Lee caseis viewed by the media as one of the most significant press-freedombattles of recent years. But yesterday, for the second time in twoweeks, the court declined to act on the reporters’ petitions.

It now appears that the court’s lack of a decision may be linked toa May 16 letter to the court from Lee’s attorneys, which said that"there have been recent settlement discussions" and that "resolution ofthe entire case may be imminent." USA Today first reported the letter.

This is actually remarkable news, with many possible implications for the Imperial Presidency. Apparently, the Bush Administration prefers to spend (presumably) a chunk of money to avoid any court rulings on this case. What kind of rulings were they fearing?

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