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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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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 (blog) 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.

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