Aug 14 2014

Why James Risen Is At the Center Of the Most Important Case of US Press Freedom

The Justice Department in the next few weeks is expected to decide whether or not to force New York Times Pulitzer prize winning journalist James Risen to testify against the source of one of his stories, that was published in Chapter 9 of Risen’s 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, where he detailed a botched CIA operation that turned over faulty nuclear bomb blueprints to Iran during the Clinton Presidency. That story, and Risen’s coverage of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program under President Bush was the impetus for the legal mess Risen now finds himself in.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court refused to take up Risen’s legal appeal. If Mr. Risen refuses to testify against his source, as he has stated he will, he will face a charge of contempt of court and could either be fined $5000 a day or face 18 months in jail.

At the heart of this story is the simple issue of press freedom. While the US constitution protects Freedom of the Press as essential to a democracy, various presidents have attempted to suspend that freedom citing “national security” concerns.

This week more than a dozen Pulitzer Prize winning journalists signed a letter on behalf of Risen, many of them citing the chilling effect that the Obama Administration’s position has already had on the willingness of sources to open up to them. In addition, more than a hundred thousand people have signed a petition calling on the Obama Administration to stop its persecution of Risen.

GUEST: Norman Solomon, Co-founder and Coordinator of Roots Action

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One response so far

One Response to “Why James Risen Is At the Center Of the Most Important Case of US Press Freedom”

  1. Ted Sparkuhlon 14 Aug 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I support Mr. Risen’s case and hope the Justice Department will stop prosecuting Mr. Risen.