News & Politics

Indictment in Leaks Case May End Pursuit of New York Times Reporter

Charges against a former CIA officer in a information-leaks case could bring relief—or new threats—to reporters


Politico's Josh Gerstein reports that Risen got the subpoena quashed in November, before Sterling was indicted.  Gerstein says Risen didn't cut a deal with prosecutors to give up his source. This is good news for reporters. I firmly believe Risen would have gone to jail rather than give up a source. 

But there's something troubling in the comment from Risen's lawyer. 

"Jim has not provided any testimony or cooperation of any kind to the government in connection with their investigation about the confidential source or sources of Chapter 9." 

I don't suggest that Risen provided testimony or cooperation for an investigation about some other chapter. But I do worry that there might in fact be an investigation into another chapter. Otherwise, why single this case out as being only about Chapter 9?  

The original post appears here:

The Justice Department has indicted a former CIA officer for leaking to a reporter, and all signs point to the New York Times’ James Risen as the beneficiary of said leak. This is a major development in one of the more-important reporters’ privilege cases in recent memory. As we revealed last year, the government had twice subpoenaed Risen to testify before a grand jury about his source, even through the government already had identified the leaker and didn’t actually need Risen to testify in order to bring its case. This was an extraordinary stretch of the government’s powers to force journalists to give up their sources, and it had profound implications for reporters that, sadly, went unnoticed in the hubbub over the Wikileaks disclosures.

The ex-CIA official named in the indictment is Jeffrey Sterling, who reportedly worked on Iran issues for the agency. The leak for which Risen was being subpoenaed involved a covert CIA operation against Iran. If Sterling is the man whom investigators have been seeking, then presumably they will now drop their subpoena against Risen, if they haven’t already. That is, unless they intend to call him in open court, which would be a very dark day for journalists everywhere.

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