Supreme Court Won't Hear Reporter's Appeal; James Risen May Now Face Jail For Not Revealing Sources

from the shameful dept

Unfortunately, it appears that the Supreme Court has decided not to hear reporter James Risen’s appeal in the case in which he has been subpoenaed to testify, concerning CIA leaks. Risen had refused to testify, claiming that as a reporter he was entitled to keep his sources confidential. Last summer, the 4th Circuit appeals court said that Risen could be compelled to testify and to give up his sources. The court refused a request to rehear the case en banc (with a full slate of judges, rather than just a 3 judge panel). He then appealed to the Supreme Court, leading to today’s rejection.

The DOJ, of course, had vigorously argued that the Supreme Court should reject Risen’s appeal (ridiculously, it did this the same day the State Department launched a “free the press” campaign). Last week, we noted that some were interpreting Eric Holder’s comments to mean that he would not seek jail time for Risen, should he continue to refuse to testify, but a closer reading of Holder’s comments said no such thing.

It appears we may now find out the truth. If Risen continues to protect his sources, the ball will be in the DOJ’s court: will it give up or will it pursue throwing a widely respected reporter in jail? One would hope that a basic sense of common decency would lead the DOJ to give up this ridiculous fight, but the DOJ doesn’t have much of a history of common decency.

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Comments on “Supreme Court Won't Hear Reporter's Appeal; James Risen May Now Face Jail For Not Revealing Sources”

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silverscarcat (profile) says:

Considering that this administration...

And everyone even remotely tied to it is officially the most corrupt administration of all time and worse than Taft and Nixon’s combined…

Yeah, see ya, James Risen, you might get out when a decent… Oh what am I saying? You’re going to be in prison for the rest of your life because there’s no good Presidential candidates coming up.

Seriously, does anyone think that Hilary Clinton or any Republican candidate is any different than Obama is?

David says:

Re: Considering that this administration...

You’re going to be in prison for the rest of your life because there’s no good Presidential candidates coming up.

If Snowden manages to stick where he is for a good decade without getting a felony conviction, he’ll be old enough to run as candidate and save America’s bacon yet another time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Here’s the problem with that theory. The old guard news organizations don’t like losing their audience to the new guard news sources that don’t play by the same rules that they do and would like nothing better than the government to crack down like this on those sources. All the major old guard players are cozy with government and get certain access granted so long as they don’t upset the government too much. New media doesn’t have that access and doesn’t care what the government thinks or it’s rules. So you will see this covered a lot on the web, but it will likely be barely mentioned, if at all, and spun as a rogue reporter getting his due for breaking the law by the mainstream media. The mainstream media would very happy for the government to take down a few of their rowdy rivals this way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Except that Risen works for the New York Times, which is about as old-guard as you can get. The Times also has a long history of tangling with the DOJ over freedom-of-the-press issues (eg: the Pentagon Papers) and over protecting reporters’ sources (eg: Earl Caldwell, Judith Miller). And fighting the government to protect journalistic principles reflects very well, both on the paper as a whole and on the journalists involved.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I wasn’t speaking specifically about the NYT. I was mainly referring to the TV networks. Unfortunately the vast majority of people don’t read the news, even online. Instead they are spoon fed talking points on issues that the corporate sponsors of the TV networks want, which are the very same corporate sponsors of the politicians in Washington. Sure the NYT may try to protect their own, but it will most likely be out of the duty to protect their own rather than the principle of the matter. Wasn’t it the NYT that published Kinsley’s review of Greenwald’s book?

Anonymous Coward says:

i think the greater tragedy is that there could be an awful lot of stories that never get reported at all if this guy is jailed. maybe that’s what the DOJ has in it’s sights, given what Snowden did. if it goes ahead, just wait until there is something that gets reported and released everywhere except the USA but it has a big impact on it!

Anonymous Coward says:

It is increasingly looking like that before criticizing, or revealing embarrassing information about the US administration, you need to make sure you are in a country that you want to live in, and which will not allow you to be extradited. Oh also make sure it is powerful enough to deter the use of US drones over its territory.

bob (profile) says:

people vs press vs govt

In this case I have to agree that (most) people don’t have a high care factor for freedom of the press.
but the press certainly does.
so I kind of hope that he does go to jail, to see if that will be enough to put the press on a confrontational footing with the govt. hopefully leading to some changes in opinion of the govt by the people.
which is one step towards changing the govt.
just 999 more steps to go.
(not referencing the 9-9-9 plan) 😛

zip says:

Judith Miller etc

Although I generally agree with the concept of a reporter’s right to remain silent, I was glad to see Judith Miller go to jail. Though not nearly as much as wanting to see I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and “Dick” Cheney – the source of Judith Miller’s CIA leak – to be sent up the river to do hard time. But of course people who are that close to the President never go to jail.

Anonymous Coward says:

SCOTUS is a joke...

They have been out to lunch for quite some time.

When you regularly see decisions split along political/party lines then you know that these clowns are not there to administer justice! They are there instead to protect the cronies that got them appointed in the first place! They regularly create law where it does not exist and they ignore the constitution whenever needed!

AC says:


You guys are screwed, time to give up you live in a country worse now that nazi germany, Hitler would have loved to have this kind of power you let your governmant have. You have no rights, and your no longer free, and your government officials are the worlds bullies.

You have a couple of option

1. Its time to either give up and just keep consuming and roll over and take it up the ass.

2. Time to get off your asses and tell the government no more and overthrow them.

I will be betting heavily on the first one.

Whatever says:


I always get a giggle when someone pulls out the “worse than Nazi Germany” comparisons. You will show me where the trains are taking people to the gas chambers, and then we can talk about your assertions. Until then, hyperbole is hyperbole.

This case is very interesting because the ruling dates back 45 years. This is not a new issue. Rather, the courts in a balanced and considered judgement ruled that the first amendment doesn’t specifically include any press shield provisions, and that there are circumstances where a reporter may be compelled to divulge sources. This particular case is a good example, as the reporter’s information and it’s source are key to determining guilt or innocence. So you have to weigh the harm done compared to the public’s right for justice to be served.

The circumstances are reasonable exceptional, and the panel’s 2-1 decision seems to take that into account. There is a point where a reporter keeping his knowledge of a crime or keeping the source of a confession away from police crossed into aiding and abetting the crime. The reporter here declining to provide the source doesn’t just shield the source from public scrutiny or infamy, but rather protects that individual from paying the price for their crimes. The benefits to the public outweigh what is lost in this particular instance.

No Nazis required

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: LOL


You will show me where the trains are taking people to the gas chambers, and then we can talk about your assertions.

You actually NEED it to get this far before doing something about it?

You are a failure to the human race, just like most humans. Cowardly and unwilling to help your fellow man if it means you have to face a scary authority or thug! You are the type that would stand around and take a picture or look on as a female is raped.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: LOL

Whatever has proven to be the type of asshole who thinks that every Third World Country should pay through the nose and their first childborn to have access to basic amenities like working plumbing system and education.

He also admits to using TOR, which according to his heroes the RIAA, he’s a pirate.

Whatever says:

Re: Re: Re:2 LOL

Ahh, my personal troll. How are you today? I see you are a poor reader, because I have never admitted to using TOR. Learn to read carefully.

“Third World Country should pay through the nose and their first childborn to have access to basic amenities like working plumbing system and education.”

I have said no such thing. Why do you lie?

Whatever says:

Re: Re: Re: LOL

You actually NEED it to get this far before doing something about it?

Not at all. I am only pointing out that claiming the US today is “as bad as Nazi Germany” is a pretty big stretch.

I am very much willing to help my fellow man, at the speed that my fellow man stops hurting themselves. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who bang their heads against the wall just because it feels better when they stop. That isn’t an accomplishment, that’s just common sense.

AC says:

Re: Re: LOL

I never mentioned the gas chamber, but the USA is just as bad as nazi germany was, if not worse, and your one of the people I would put in category 1 , willing to sit on your ass and do nothing, good luck with people like you around getting any changes.

God bless the USA, if he/she exists. ( I doubt it )

Anonymous Coward says:

Comparison between USA today and Nazi Germany of yesterday

Even a lowly alien understands the connection between Nazi Germany and the USA. Nazi Germany (Adolf and his buddies) took inspiration from the USA of fore for many of their policies, particularly from the wealthy of the day. What has occurred over the last century in the USA is a build up of those policies that led to the rise of National Socialism.

This site regularly highlights the sense of privilege that various sections of your society have in ruling over the masses.

How long this situation will last will depend on how long all levels within your society are willing to keep the status quo.

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