Is this déjà vu with Judith Miller all over again? A leak of classified information to our nation’s paper of record may end up with a reporter facing a contempt citation and a jail term. James Risen, The New York Times investigative reporter, has been asked by prosecutors, on pain of imprisonment, to disgorge the identity of the anonymous sources who divulged CIA secrets he wrote about in his 2006 book, State of War. The key difference between then and now, one causing alarm and dismay in liberal circles, is that it is Barack Obama’s Justice Department—not George W. Bush’s—that is brandishing the subpoena.
Investigating the same episode, the Bush administration tried to have Risen questioned in 2008, but Risen’s lawyers challenged the summons in court and it expired without Risen ever testifying. The Obama administration has not allowed the matter to die. Unless Risen succeeds once again in getting the subpoena quashed, he faces the prospect of either violating the pledge of confidentiality he gave to his sources, or, like Judith Miller in the Valerie Plame leak investigation, refusing to testify and going to jail. Continue reading