News Release

DOJ’s Risen Plot Thickens

James Risen (left) and Jeffrey Sterling (right)

James Risen (left) and Jeffrey Sterling (right)

While the Department of Justice has formally backed off from its longtime insistence that journalist James Risen identify a confidential source for his reporting on a CIA operation, the DOJ is still pushing for Risen to testify at the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling.

After a federal court hearing yesterday, ExposeFacts investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler wrote that the government appears to be maneuvering to be able to ask Risen some slippery-slope questions in order to open up the subject of his sources for cross-examination.

Meanwhile, International Business Times reported last night, “Thousands of journalists, press advocates and free-speech supporters are urging the U.S. Department of Justice to abandon its prosecution of Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, the former CIA officer accused of leaking classified information about the government’s embarrassingly ill-conceived effort to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.

“On Monday, the group RootsAction.org launched a petition calling for Sterling’s release. The group says blowing the whistle on reckless government activities is not a crime but a ‘public service,’ and supporters apparently agree. Within 24 hours, the petition had attracted more than 15,000 signatures, according to Norman Solomon, a coordinator for the group. By Tuesday afternoon, almost 20,000 people had signed on to the cause.”

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at gmail.com
Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. After the federal court hearing yesterday, she wrote the piece “In Plan for Risen Subpoena, Government Raises Sixth Amendment Interests of Jeffrey Sterling.”

Wheeler is the “Right to Know” journalist for ExposeFacts and blogs at emptywheel.net.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
Solomon is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He said today: “While making a strategic retreat from its insistence that Risen identify a confidential source, the Justice Department is now aiming for a more insidious attack on freedom of the press. Risen is directly in the line of fire, but the long-range target is investigative journalism in the United States.”

Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org, which coordinated the petition campaign “We Support James Risen Because We Support a Free Press.” The petition gained more than 100,000 signers this year.

He is the author of many books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

Background:
* Marcy Wheeler, ExposeFacts: “The Leaky CIA’s Case Against Alleged Leaker”
* Norman Solomon, Marcy Wheeler, The Nation: “The Government War Against Reporter James Risen”
* Marcy Wheeler, ExposeFacts: “The Government’s Single-Source Theory of Journalism”
* Matt Apuzzo, The New York Times: “CIA Leaked Classified Information to Support Program”
* Marcy Wheeler, ExposeFacts: “A Tale of Two Alleged Iran Nuke Leakers”