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U.S. Government steps up its efforts to track down journalist sources.

A former government official was recently presented with presented with extensive phone records of his interactions with James Risen, a reporter for the New York Times and author of the book, “State of War.”

The investigation concerns a series of leaks, reported by Risen in State of War and with associate Eric Lichtblau in the Times, which lead to the discovery of an “extensive, off-the-books domestic spying program” later confirmed by the Bush Administration. Justice Department officials confirmed that prosecutors subpoenaed Risen’s phone records in an effort to ferret out his sources, and sources close to the investigation indicated that at least one former government official has already been questioned.

The Times’ source, a grand jury witness speaking on anonymity, said he was not clear whose records the DoJ is accessing, noting that it’s possible that investigators could target Risen’s phone records, or the records of the officials he may have spoken with. The Times also reports that it has, thus far, not received any subpoenas, though it notes that it’s possible the government could subpoena its phone company without the giving the Times anynotice.

Justice Department officials served Risen a subpoena earlier this year January, demanding the sources for a specific chapter in State of War that details a CIA plan to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program.

Joel Kurtzberg, the New York attorney representing Risen on behalf of his employer and publisher, declined to comment.

Risen’s reporting set a climate that helped propel evidence of an AT&T/NSA wiretapping alliance into the limelight, galvanizing the civil rights groups to action and setting telcos and the Bush Administration aflame. The government is currently moving to crush the resulting lawsuits by invoking the State Secrets privilege, which have the potential of quickly ending the battle.

His articles – which won him a shared Pulitzer Prize in 2006 – are just the latest target of a government seemingly intent on punishing reporters that fail to cooperate. Times reporter Judith Miller spent nearly three months in jail after refusing to divulge her sources in a leak that identified a C.I.A. operative, and California freelance reporter Josh Wolf spent over half a year in jail after he refused to testify before a grand jury and hand over videotapes of an anarchist rally in San Francisco that turned violent. In Wolf’s case, a three-judge panel in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that his behavior was in defiance of the “long-established obligation of a reporter to comply with grand jury subpoenas.”

Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press executive director Lucy A. Daiglish warned reporters of the Bush Administration’s “really egregious” efforts at intimidation, telling press members to spur technology and “do your reporting the old fashioned way – meet your sources on a park bench.”

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Wait a minute...
By Gondorff on 4/16/2008 11:43:54 AM , Rating: 2
I don't claim to know a whole lot about this issue, but it seems like the previous posters are ignoring an elephant in the room.

Namely, the gov't is trying to track down leaks in secret information. Now, I know everyone loves to be let in on a secret, and no one likes to think the US has something to hide, but these sorts of things aren't secret for no reason. It's not to keep US citizens in the dark, it's to allow whatever plans exist to be successful.
It seems to me that people are becoming dangerously ok with the fact that our inside people in the government are just spouting secret information to journalists. I'm not entirely sure, but it sounds like this sort of stuff would have been called treason if this were happening back in the day.

Basically... is it so worrying that the gov't is trying to track down the source of leaks? If these people are willing to leak this stuff to journalists, what other stuff might they be willing to leak to the highest bidder?

RE: Wait a minute...
By headbox on 4/16/08, Rating: 0
RE: Wait a minute...
By Adonlude on 4/16/2008 12:53:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, its amazing what large groups of people can be convinced to believe. Look at the second ammendment and the current Heller Supreme Court case. All the anti-gun people are trying to convince everyone that "the people", as written in the 2A, refers to a collective militia and not the individual citizen. The only problem is that "the people" is used all over the bill of rights in a very individual sense. If the anti-gunners succeed at defining "the people" on a collective level then we better get ready to give up most of the Bill of Rights on the individual level.

RE: Wait a minute...
By Grast on 4/16/2008 1:12:51 PM , Rating: 5

The domestic spying program has NOT been ruled unconstitutional YET. Until that time, it is untruthful to state as such. It is also up for debate as to whether the program is a successful attempt by the government to find TRAITOR's supporting the desirers of terrorist wish to harm Americans.

I believe that is total within the preview of the CIA, FBI, and NSA to find American's which are conspiring with people wishing to harm other Americans. That activity is called TREASON and should be labeled as such. If you support, collude, send money, provide information, and/or assist a terrorist organization/person with activities that can lead to the death or harm of an American citizen or American military, you are a TRAITOR and should be prosecuted as such.

I have written before on this topic. In summary, I full support the right of any American to have reasonable privacy, protection from unreasonable search and seizures, and the freedom of speech.

The government was using domestic program to investigate individuals which were contacting, sending money, and/or interacting with KNOWN terrorist. These (using your words) spying techniques were done without the normal warrant procedures. As such if an American had been found colluding with a terrorist organization, the evidence found could not be used in a court of law for criminal procedures but still identify an American which is trying to hurt their fellow countryman. That information could and I believe has prevented past terrorist acts on US soil.

The program also identifies individuals with questionable activities. These people can them be investigated within the preview of the law and prosecuted if a law has been broken.

I personally want the government (FBI, CIA, NSA) to be looking for Americans which are cooperating with the enemy. These people should be investigated and if guilty punished to the full extent of the law.

Just my rant.

RE: Wait a minute...
By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 2:23:47 PM , Rating: 1
Well said!

RE: Wait a minute...
By KristopherKubicki on 4/16/08, Rating: 0
RE: Wait a minute...
By Grast on 4/16/2008 6:07:58 PM , Rating: 2
No, Watergate was about election fraud and a president spying on the demecratic party for the purpose of gaining a heads up on the up and coming election.

The domestic spying program intacted after 911 had a very specific purpose. The purpose was to discover the nature of communications to the U.S. from known terrorist organisation. Basically, they listen to conversations of terrorist calling other terrorist in the U.S. If the other person on the line in the U.S. (A TRAITOR) turned out to be a U.S. citizen, that makes them a TRAITOR. However even if that conversation covered a terrorist plot and the U.S. citizen was found accutally performing the terrorist act, the evedence gathered via the wire taps would have inadmissable in a court of law.

My point is that rules of evidence admission in our judicial systems protects any U.S. citizen which would have been caught in the spy program.

The project would however protect U.S. citizen by giving the FBI, CIA, and NSA the information needed to prevent further terroist attacks.

The bottom line is the program did not restrict any citizens right to free speech. It also did not deny any U.S. citizen the protections of a fair and speedy trial. The program did not infringe on a citizens right to be free.

This program DID allow the FBI, CIA, and NSA to know who was contacting, supporting, and colluding with known terrorist organization. Once we know who is colluding, it is a lot easier to ensure that these people are deported from the country or in the case of a U.S. citizen identify if the activity warrants further investigation.

The U.S. government has been spying on its own citizens since its creation. The big difference between the U.S. and other government is that any information gathered outside the rules of law can not be used against that individual for the procecution of breaking the law.


RE: Wait a minute...
By Viditor on 4/16/08, Rating: -1
RE: Wait a minute...
By snownpaint on 4/16/2008 4:37:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yes Well said..
Do these reporters have a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement, like a lawyer or a doctor? If not, then in the interest of protection, I feel, the reporter should be doing what they can to bring down a terrorist threat. In return for the info to the authorities, I'm sure a new story about terrorists getting smacked down with help from a station's reporter would be scoop enough.

RE: Wait a minute...
By nofranchise on 4/17/2008 4:15:58 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure a new story about terrorists getting smacked down with help from a station's reporter would be scoop enough.

If there actually were any terrorists inside the US who were in any way accessible to a reporter don't you think -

A) That reporters would have done that story? Or do you actually believe, that reporters would actively avoid writing critical stories ABOUT terrorists and their supporters? (If so, seek help at the nearest psychiatric ER).

B) That government agencies would have gotten wind of it already?

RE: Wait a minute...
By odessit740 on 4/16/2008 8:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
If necessary, I think a viable option would be to have a judge on-call, working a special shift in the CIA/FBI who would authorize the wiretaps, but he would be responsible for what is authorized. Someone needs to be responsible for the wiretaps! D.C. judges should alternate the on-call position or something, like once a week. That would be reasonable spending of tax-payer money.

RE: Wait a minute...
By eye smite on 4/16/2008 1:40:07 PM , Rating: 1
Here, here brother. Committers of treason need to be thrown under the jailhouse, no questions asked.

RE: Wait a minute...
By hcahwk19 on 4/16/2008 10:02:23 PM , Rating: 2
The wiretapping program was and is NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Read the law that set this program up. The wiretapping is for international calls ONLY. The calls were not domestic. The calls were INTERNATIONAL and either:

a) incoming to the US from a number that is linked to a known terrorist suspect/group calling a US number. This is not a domestic call. It is an international call.


b) outgoing call from a US number to a number in another country (take your pick) that is linked to a known terrorist suspect/group. This is not a domestic call. It is an international call.


c) the call is between two countries with at least one of the numbers being linked to a known terrorist suspect/group, and the call happens to link between satellites with the switching occurring in the US. This is not a domestic call. It is an international call.

The law provides that with ANY/ALL of the three situations above, as well as any other possible scenarios where an international call is coming/going/through the US, that the NSA may tap the call. The NSA then has a set amount of time, I believe around 3 days, to obtain a court issued warrant to continue tapping the line.

A true DOMESTIC call occurs when someone is Cleveland calls someone in Philly. Both ends of the call are US numbers. That is a domestic call. These are not being tapped.

Personally, I WANT TO KNOW if a US citizen/immigrant is calling or being called by a number that is linked to a known terrorist suspect or terrorist group. I also want to know if there is a call between terrorist numbers from Germany and Indonesia, that so happens to travel through switching stations and satellites in the US. If you are going to bitch about something being unconstitutional, you need to back yourself up with facts, as well as knowledge and understanding of the Constitution.

You liberals are the first to always cry out about the so called "right to privacy." First of all, there is NO RIGHT TO PRIVACY ANYWHERE IN THE CONSTITUTION. Look it up. You will not find it. There is a protection against unlawful search and seizure, but that is not a right to privacy. All that is needed for lawful search and seizure is probable cause and/or a warrant, and a warrant is fairly easy to obtain from the courts when needed. The "right to privacy" was first mentioned in a Supreme Court case around the 1960-1970s. It isn't even a clear cut "right", like the right to free speech, or freedom of religion. The Court likened it to a bundle of sticks, with each stick representing a clear cut "right" from the Bill of Rights, such as the rights to free speech, religion, against self-incrimination, no quartering of troops, unlawful search and seizure, that, when combined, appeared to encompass a general "right to privacy." It was a 5-4 decision that parsed the language in the Constitution, and, fortunately, in the past 15 years or so, the Supreme Court has clearly refrained from mentioning "right to privacy" in many decisions that could possibly involve it, especially when it comes to abortion (just to name one area).

Also, the 2nd Amendment is there both to protect our right to go duck hunting, and to protect from the tyranny of a government with unchecked powers, as well as other governments. Look at the history and reasoning behind the amendment. At the time of the Revolution, the state militias were made up, like today, of state citizens. But back then, there was no central US military, so these militias were armed by the very citizens that comprised the militias. Militiamen would bring all of their OWN rifles and muskets to the militia, for both their own use and for the use of those that did not own guns. Without these men owning these rifles, we would not exist as the great US of A. The founding fathers did not know how long their creation would last, and they feared reprise by the British, and those Americans who sided with the British. Therefore, they created an avenue where the American citizens themselves could be prepared for both the new US government becoming too powerful, as well as attacks from other governments. Our modern day US military is a far cry from what the founding fathers envisioned. The military, as our founding fathers intended, was for the states to provide the military and merely be called up and organized by a central commander (the reason the Prez is called the Commander-in-Chief). Back then, it would have been 13 state militias with a loose central command. Today, that should technically be the same, except with 50 militias. Granted, it may or may not be as efficient as what we have. What we have today is a shadow of this. True, the states have militias, but they are all centrally controlled and organized by the federal government.

If enough liberals really feel so strongly as to take our RIGHT to bear arms away, or any of the other rights expressly provided for in the Bill of Rights, then there is a clear, constitutional avenue for doing so. PASS AN AMENDMENT. But, you all know that it will NEVER be ratified by 3/4 of both legislative branches, as well as 3/4 of all of the states. Instead, you turn to activist judges that parse the language, twisting and turning it, in order to obtain the result they want, whether the case involves abortion, or gun rights, or wiretapping, or property, or religion, just to name a few, all while knowing that to overturn it could mean that stare decisis is not followed, and most judges do not have the balls to do that when needed, even on the Supreme Court.

RE: Wait a minute...
By Viditor on 4/17/08, Rating: -1
RE: Wait a minute...
By hcahwk19 on 4/17/2008 9:49:23 AM , Rating: 2
Once again, you are parsing language, this time from a case that has a lot of negative history (though not fully overturned), and using it to try and make the whole point. The Katz case was about truly domestic calls, from one US number to another US within the US. The current issue is NOT about DOMESTIC tapping. The calls tapped by the NSA here were INTERNATIONAL calls. The Katz case also clearly sets out three exceptions to the holding in the case, one of which is from Warden, Md. Penitentiary v. Hayden , which states that "the 4th amendment does not require police officers to delay in the course of investigation if to do so would gravely endanger their lives or the lives of others. Speed was essential here." 387 U.S. 294, 298-99 (1967). That is the basis behind the NSA wiretapping program.

You are crazy if you think that the NSA program does not protect us from grave dangers. You would probably be one of the first to cry like those after 9/11, "What did you know and when did you know it?" or "Why did you not do something to find this information out and save us from attack?" YOU CANNOT HAVE THIS ISSUE BOTH WAYS. In case you have been living in a cave for the last 15 years, you know there are Islamofascist terrorist in this world, both in the US and other countries, that will stop at absolutely nothing to blow themselves up in order to kill even innocent civilians (9/11 is one of many prime examples in just the past 15 years). What happens if the NSA does not do this and we are attacked?

On top of that, the law is such that if the police want to tap your phone for the monitoring of domestic calls, they can do it. They just have 24 hours in which to get a warrant. If they don't, then it cannot be used in court against YOU.

This NSA wiretapping program was passed by Congress, just as FISA was, and it amended the FISA rules specifically for the situations at issue now. As with many other surveillance laws, this one is VERY narrowly tailored to specific situations, and thankfully, will most likely pass constitutional muster, especially with the present composition of the Supreme Court.

RE: Wait a minute...
By Viditor on 4/17/08, Rating: 0
RE: Wait a minute...
By MrWonka on 4/22/2008 8:51:23 PM , Rating: 2
You really need to stop mumbling; cause’ I can’t understand a word you’re saying.

RE: Wait a minute...
By Darnell021 on 4/16/2008 12:27:31 PM , Rating: 3
I suppose you could make that conclusion, but perhaps these inside sources decided the spying programs were morally wrong and the most effective way to get that out to the public would be to talk to a reporter..

RE: Wait a minute...
By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 2:19:30 PM , Rating: 1
So they also decided that it was in the public's best interest to tell a journalist about secret plans to infiltrate Iran's nuclear program so we know if they're developing nuclear weapons and/or selling them to terrorists? Yes that sounds like it would be horrible for the American people. Yes I can understand someone whistleblowing on a program that actually potentially affects American's, but not on program's that do not and only serve to keep America, and the rest of the world, safe.

Sorry but he's right. The government needs to know who is releasing secrets. Especially when they compromise national security and could cost lives(those of CIA operatives). If these people are willing to sell journalists secrets, they'll also sell the Chinese, Iran, or others secrets.

RE: Wait a minute...
By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 2:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I should say I don't understand whistleblowing on said program. But I can understand the desire to. If you don't agree with something, you might be compelled to bring it to others attention. But that still doesn't give you the right to break the law.

RE: Wait a minute...
By Darkskypoet on 4/16/08, Rating: -1
RE: Wait a minute...
By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 8:04:36 PM , Rating: 3
They don't even have to sell them. All that has to happen is a rogue employee has to sneak some nuclear material out and give it to a terrorist organization. It's already been shown that groups like Hamas are receiving funding from Iran. Is it inconceivable to think that they might be able to get their hands on nuclear material from Iran? I think not.

Nukes are only a deterrent when neither side actually wants to fight and die. And I think terrorist groups have clearly shown they don't care about killing innocents or themselves.

RE: Wait a minute...
By hcahwk19 on 4/16/2008 10:08:49 PM , Rating: 2
They don't have to sell them to terrorists because Iran is a terrorist nation that harbors, trains and funds various Islamofascist terrorist groups. The Iranian government gives millions in money and weapons to Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaida, you name it. No selling required; just giving.

RE: Wait a minute...
By croc on 4/17/2008 12:08:30 AM , Rating: 2
"And in other news today, President Bush has proscribed the Democratic party to terrorist status by a presidential finding. All congressional records with any Democratic comments shall be declared classified documents, and the Democratic Terrorist Party's fundraising efforts will be tracked down and confiscated"

RE: Wait a minute...
By aeroengineer1 on 4/16/2008 2:35:27 PM , Rating: 2
It is funny, for a long time journalists had the upper hand citing laws that at the time were considered obscure to obtain secret information and publish it. Had these people been foreign nationals, they would have been tried as spies. If they(journalists) want to play this game they need to be aware that there are consequences. I think that it is only fair that the government is allowed to investigate the sources of the journalists so that the can be disciplined in the proper way for violating their terms of employment and sometimes oaths. Please remember people just because you do not agree with something does it give you the right to break the law to try and get attention for a law that you personally think is in violation of the constitution. There are other legal means for doing this, though they are much more costly.

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