Tuesday, March 3, 2015
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

.

US / World

 
Netanyahu assails Iran deal, touts US-Israel ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
‘Naty’ Revuelta, who had daughter with Fidel Castro, dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UN warns against complacency as Ebola fight enters new phase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Iraq launches operation to retake Tikrit from Islamic State

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Woman with slain Putin critic says she didn’t see his killer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Storms bring up nearly 3 feet of snow to Lake Tahoe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
4 people killed, 4 others injured in California car crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Federal study: Foster kids struggle to get health screenings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Well-liked photo teacher found dead in California classroom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Budget standoff leaves California college hopefuls in limbo

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Police chief: Man killed on Skid Row reached for gun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 2 Comments | Gallery

Military judge orders overseer of Gitmo cases replaced

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Snowy Boston starts removing parking-space savers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Israelis worry about inequality, not Iran

By Daniel Gordis | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
Editorial cartoon: March 3-4, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Minority outreach that works

By Jennifer Rubin | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

.

Entertainment

Sara Gilbert welcomes baby boy with wife Linda Perry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Judge: CeeLo Green in compliance with probation in drug case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Clive Owen to make Broadway debut in Pinter’s ‘Old Times’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Television’s ‘Judge Judy’ staying in session

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Pop channel bringing Daytime Emmys ceremony back to TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Julianne and Derek Hough to hit the road again this summer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Ming-Na Wen: ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ role makes me a cool mom

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
TVGrid March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

NASCAR falls flat in follow-up to Daytona 500

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Mayweather and Pacquiao to meet only once before fight week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Michael Schumacher’s son to drive in Formula 4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
UConn still No. 1 in women’s basketball poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Kurt Busch to follow guidelines toward NASCAR reinstatement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Harrington wins the Honda Classic in a playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Curt Schilling fires back after offensive Twitter posts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Wild week leads to changes across AP Top 25 poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
New Browns QB McCown barely knows Manziel

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Jordan, other NBA owners join Forbes’ billionaire list

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NFL salary cap increases $10 million to top $143 million

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

A’s switch-pitcher hopes to find spot with Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sharks trade Desjardins to Blackhawks for Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

.

Business

Buffett declines to clarify plan to eventually replace him

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
US consumer spending, adjusted for inflation, rose in Jan.

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Ikea launches furniture with inbuilt wireless chargers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Minimum wage in 1 Oakland jumps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
PayPal to acquire mobile wallet provider Paydient

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Costco strikes credit card deal with Citi, Visa

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 2 Comments

 
Bill Gates repeats at top of Forbes’ list of billionaires

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

HP’s big deal: Tech giant buys Aruba Networks for $2.7B

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Dot-com deja vu: Nasdaq tops 5,000, approaching record high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Wizard of Id March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Frank and Ernest March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Dilbert March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth March 3

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4