Friday, November 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Justices reject reporter’s bid to protect source

By
June 04, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — A reporter who has been ordered to divulge the identity of the source of classified information lost his bid Monday to get the Supreme Court to clarify whether journalists have a right to protect their confidential sources.

Without comment, the justices rejected an appeal from New York Times reporter James Risen to revisit the court’s 42-year-old ruling that has raised questions about journalists’ ability to shield from public view the names of people who tell them government secrets.

Risen detailed a botched CIA effort during the Clinton administration to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions. His reporting is at the center of criminal charges against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling of disclosing government secrets.

Federal prosecutors want to force Risen to testify about his sources at Sterling’s trial, but Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested that the Justice Department could find a way to defuse the situation and not subject Risen to time in jail should he refuse to testify as ordered.

Notes from a meeting with journalists last week taken by Associated Press General Counsel Karen Kaiser show that Holder said, “as long as I’m the attorney general, no reporter who is doing his or her job will go to jail. As long as I’m attorney general, someone who is doing their job will not get prosecuted.” Department officials later added that Holder wasn’t referring to any specific case.

Risen argued that he has a right to protect his sources’ identities, either under the Constitution or rules governing criminal trials. The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., had rejected Risen’s bid to avoid being forced to testify.

His Supreme Court appeal came amid a debate over where to draw the line between national security and press freedoms. The Obama administration has been more aggressive than its predecessors in pursuing leaks of government secrets, including reviewing journalists’ phone and email records and seeking to compel reporters to testify. The Associated Press was the target of one such records effort.

Joel Kurtzberg, an attorney for Risen, said Monday that prosecutors must now decide whether they will force the issue.

“The ball is now in the government’s court. It can elect to proceed in the Sterling trial without Jim’s testimony if it wants to. If they insist on his testimony and Jim refuses to testify, the court will need to have a hearing to determine if Jim is in contempt and, if so, what the consequence of that will be,” Kurtzberg said.

“We are considering the next steps in this case,” Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said after the court’s action.

Disclosures of subpoenas for the records and testimony prompted Congress to revive a proposal for a national media shield law, similar to laws in place in most states, which would afford a measure of protection to reporters and news media organizations from being required to reveal the identities of confidential sources. But it would not grant an absolute privilege to journalists.

The last time the Supreme Court weighed in on reporters and confidential sources was in 1972, when the court held 5-4 in Branzburg v. Hayes that that nothing in the First Amendment protects reporters from being called to testify before grand juries.

But one of the justices in that majority, Lewis Powell, wrote a concurring opinion suggesting that maybe the court’s holding was not as absolute as it sounded. Powell said courts would consider the competing claims of prosecutors and journalists case by case, and called judges to strike “a proper balance between freedom of the press and the obligation of all citizens to give relevant testimony with respect to criminal conduct.”

The Richmond appeals court majority relied on the 1972 decision to side with prosecutors against Risen. It ruled 2-1 last year that Risen could be ordered to testify because he “can provide the only first-hand account of the commission of a most serious crime indicted by the grand jury – the illegal disclosure of classified, national security information by one who was entrusted by our government to protect national security, but who is charged with having endangered it instead.”

The dissenting judge also invoked Powell’s opinion to conclude that the case is “about as clear as mud.”

Earlier, a judge had said Risen could be questioned about the accuracy of his journalism but could not be forced to divulge any confidential sources.

Risen has refused to speak with government attorneys about his sources, and he didn’t testify before the federal grand jury that indicted Sterling in 2010 on charges of unauthorized retention and communication of national defense information, unauthorized conveyance of government property, mail fraud and obstruction of justice.

The Associated Press and many other leading news organizations supported Risen’s appeal. Also backing Risen was the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which said Risen’s rejection by the high court should prompt Congress to pass “a robust federal shield law.”

The case is Risen v. U.S., 13-1009.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

     
    Solano Turkey Trot draws 2,600 to college

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
    Solano College student body to mark World AIDS Day

    By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: A3

     
    Il Fiorello schedules olive milling day

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Movies just another course on Thanksgiving

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Early Black Friday shoppers take advantage of deals

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Eagle Scout project adds floating docks at Rockville Park

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    .

    US / World

    ‘Guardian angel,’ community join to give man home

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    US celebrates Thanksgiving with parades, turkey

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Tons of marijuana seized in Central California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

     
    Gorilla death prompts San Francisco Zoo changes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    Health agents still unpaid after plan’s rollout

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

     
    California Burger King employee finds $100,000

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    At 1 month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Families asked to host visitors for pope’s US trip

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Researchers discover ‘pre-cancers’ in blood

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    For some, location of Brown’s hands irrelevant

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

    Ferguson gives thanks after a quiet night

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    35 arrested in Oakland after protest march

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    A glance at Ferguson: Then, now and the future

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

     
    Colorado mastodon bones show ancient warmer Earth

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

    Queen of crime writing PD James dies aged 94

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Taliban attack rocks upscale Kabul district

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Small quake rattles California wine country

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

    .

    Living

    Today in History: Nov. 28, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 28, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Poor health is no excuse for not behaving like a caring person

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

     
    Horoscope for Nov. 28, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    Week in preview: Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, 2014

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

     
    Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ doesn’t work

    By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

    Review: ‘Madagascar’ spin-off hatches family fun

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Prison theater transforms Colombian inmates

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Singer John Mayer among ‘Late Late Show’ subs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Reading Harry Potter gives clues to brain activity

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Talking songs with She & Him

    By Kim Durbin | From Page: B3

     
    Entertainment calendar Nov. 28, 2014

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

     
    Cosby testimony describes accuser’s spiked story

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    .

    Sports

    College notebook: Many happy returns for Arizona’s Bondurant

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

     
    Sherman’s big night leads Seattle past 49ers again

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment | Gallery

    Rookie quarterback Carr is Raiders’ silver lining

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    US cities urged to keep price tags down for 2024

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

    5 investigated in FIFA WCup bid corruption probe

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    Johnson shines in Detroit’s 34-17 win over Chicago

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    Eagles roll over Cowboys 33-10 for NFC East lead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    Signups for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

    No. 9 UCLA must overcome Stanford for Pac-12 title

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

     
    .

    Business

    Kia’s ‘Soulful’ first electric car

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

     
    Automakers aim to drive away car computer hackers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

    OPEC keeps oil output on hold despite low prices

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

     
    Google’s latest: A spoon that steadies tremors

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

    3 Reasons holiday shoppers will spend cautiously

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Deanna L. Haines

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Esther Ringler

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9