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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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By TomCorelis on 4/16/2008 2:49:35 PM , Rating: -1
What is the flipside to that statement? Believing everything the government tells us? Who keeps the powers in check then?

Journalists report this stuff when they feel its a concern to their readers. Risen reported on internal CIA antics and Bush Administration cronyism that threatened to undermine citizens' rights right to privacy, among other things. I won't bandy on about freedom of speech here, but I would much rather have proof the CIA is or isn't operating as promised than not -- and insight like Risen's is an important component of that proof.

Bush readily admitted that he would rather be a dictator, simply because then he could direct the country as he sees fit. ANYONE who feels that way, placed in such stratospheric levels of power, should be nothing less than completely naked before the public's collective eye.


By DigitalFreak on 4/16/2008 2:55:39 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Bush readily admitted that he would rather be a dictator, simply because then he could direct the country as he sees fit.


Link please


By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 3:34:21 PM , Rating: 1
Well that just proves everything I guess.

STFU.


By onwisconsin on 4/16/2008 4:18:41 PM , Rating: 2
You mean I can't say something contradictory to the establishment? I thought I lived in the United States, not Soviet Russia (under Stalin), Iraq, Nazi Germany...or any totalitarian-like government.


By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 3:41:00 PM , Rating: 1
About the only thing correct in that picture is that yes, the majority of American's are Christians. Apparently thats a bad thing now though. I say this as someone who is not one.


By Viditor on 4/16/2008 10:21:55 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
the majority of American's are Christians


Link please...


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 4/16/2008 4:06:00 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Bush readily admitted that he would rather be a dictator, simply because then he could direct the country as he sees fit.

Well, so would I.


By FITCamaro on 4/16/2008 7:57:00 PM , Rating: 4
For all the ones mentioning a dictatorship, I applaud you for taking a joke and turning it into a comment he said as if he were seriously considering a dictatorship.


By Durrr on 4/16/2008 6:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
<sarcasm>Well, since I am stationed aboard a fleet ballistic missile submarine and work on reactor systems on a daily basis, I'm going to obtain classified propulsion plant documents, and then start leaking them to every Tom Dick and Harry out there. Oh, you want a copy of every ship's schedule, deployment area. Gimme a few days. Oh, you want target packages!? SURE, HERE YA GO.</sarcasm>

There are GREAT LIMITS on what should be revealed, some stuff just shouldn't be public knowledge. The methodology under which we obtain information should be guarded at the highest level, however, people's greed and ambition to screw the next guy to get the next big story is overwhelming in today's cultural climate.


By rsmech on 4/16/2008 11:19:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Bush readily admitted that he would rather be a dictator


What's better a dictator or a communist?

If Bush is the Dictator, wouldn't Hillary or Obama be the Communist? I Haven't quit figured McCain yet, I think he's a little of both.


By nofranchise on 4/17/2008 3:39:04 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
What's better a dictator or a communist?


You sir, are confused.

A true Marxian communist would go out of his way, to maintain a totally equal society. He would try to distribute wealth equally. Which might be disagreeable to some - but hardly unlivable.

A dictator would crush any opposition and criticism to stay in power - such is the nature of the despot. He rules absolute, all others are his slaves.

Well - you obviously believe communism is Bolshevisms, or you are a masochist who likes to live as a slave. Unless of course you're just out to spread fear?

True communism has no merit in the real world unfortunately, for mankind is ever egocentric. That is how the world works.

But to incline that you would prefer to be a slave in a capitalist society, just so you wouldn't have to share, astounds me.

I sincerely hope you are joking - and if you are - brush up on your sarcasm skills.


By rsmech on 4/16/2008 11:29:23 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
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.


Where do you draw the line. I see the story about the wire taps as checks & balance, keep them clean. But how do you compare this leak? I see a stark contrast. With wire taps I want to make sure they are not infringing on US citizens. I could care less if it's non-resident suspected terrorist within the country they are listening too. With the CIA leaks pertaining to Iran I see it as selling out your country not for money but for something as cheap as an award to boost you personal pride over love of country or neighbor. One of the true functions of Gov't is to protect the people, the CIA-Iran leak is part of that. So I ask again is there a line that a journalist shouldn't cross?


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