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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 12:41pm

    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?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:08pm

    will it give up or will it pursue throwing a widely respected reporter in jail?

    I'm going to guess option 3: sling mud at a widely respected journalist until he is no longer widely respected and then throw him in jail.

     

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  3.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:09pm

    a basic sense of common decency

    and DOJ... in the same paragraph?
    -
    Fairies wear boots and ya gotta believe me.

     

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  4.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:10pm

    If they do throw him in jail there will be such an outpouring of public outrage they will never keep him there. This will make them look so bad that even the DOJ will be forced to back off. No politician in his right mind will side with them unless they really don't like being in office.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:13pm

    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!

     

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  6.  
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    Michael, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:13pm

    Re:

    I think you grossly overestimate the US population caring about freedom of the press.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    What is it with SCOTUS and completely ignoring incredibly important free speech issues, while twisting and turning issues completely unrelated to speech into one of utmost importance to this generation?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    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.

     

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  9.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re:

    You may be right but I hope not. Every responsible news outlet knows how bad this could hurt them and will play this 24/7.

     

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  10.  
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    bob, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:45pm

    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) :-P

     

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  11.  
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    Griff (profile), Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    Not backing down

    There'll be people in the DOJ saying things like "Moral Hazard" and "slippery slope" etc, and however much they know they should back off they'll pursue it all the way and only then realise what they've done.
    But then it will be too late.
    IMHO...

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    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.

     

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  13.  
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    zip, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    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.

     

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  14.  
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    Vic, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 2:15pm

    Three branches... What three branches?..

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    Re:

    NSA, DOJ, FBI

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 2:43pm

    The supreme court should be abolished, along with the rest of the government.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: 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.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 3:03pm

    So now we know which film the Supreme Court justices picked last movie night...

    Hint: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1073241

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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?

     

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  20.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 3:22pm

    Silver lining

    Our collection of martyrs is really growing of late.

     

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  21.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 3:48pm

    It will make a great book

    I hope he stands his ground. If they jail him, then at least he can retire comfortably on the proceeds of the book(s) he will write while in prison.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 5:01pm

    Holder is as corrupt as they come, part of the transparently corrupt Obama administration.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 7:01pm

    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!

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    imfat, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 7:40pm

    Re: people vs press vs govt

    Every American has freedom of press not just people working for news company. It originates from the printing press not organizations. So everyone would be affected by this bad president being set so I hope the sheeple wake up and fight back using their 1st amendment rights.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    AC, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 8:05pm

    LOL

    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.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Whatever, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 8:28pm

    Re: LOL

    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

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Re: LOL

    Wait?

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 9:38pm

    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.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    AC, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 9:46pm

    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 )

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 10:14pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    David, Jun 2nd, 2014 @ 10:51pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    kimsarah (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 12:49am

    Re: free speech

    If James Risen were a corporation, then the Supremes would take the case. Then they'd rule in favor of the corporation, followed by throwing Risen in jail as an individual not covered by the first amendment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    kimsarah (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 12:52am

    Re: people vs press vs govt

    Good point.

     

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  34.  
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    kimsarah (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 12:55am

    Re: Judith Miller etc

    under the current system

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 1:54am

    Re: Comparison between USA today and Nazi Germany of yesterday

    Too many people have taken their money. Now they are slaves to them lest they lose their new shiny...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Whatever, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Whatever, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 2:11am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: Considering that this administration...

    not quite...

    you need to be a resident of the US for 14 years before running for President.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jun 3rd, 2014 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: LOL

    The USA really does exist, dude, no matter how much I wish it didn't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2014 @ 3:52am

    The Supremes again?

    I ask: when Mr Scalia will finally declare shape of Pentagon unconstitutional?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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