Secrecy News

Govt Asks Court to Reconsider Subpoena for Reporter Risen

Prosecutors in the case of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of leaking classified information to author James Risen, have asked a federal court to reconsider (pdf) the July 29 ruling that narrowly limited Risen’s obligation to testify at the trial of Mr. Sterling. (“Reporter Risen Will Not Have to Identify Source in Leak Trial,” Secrecy News, August 1.)

“There is no equivalent for Risen’s eyewitness testimony,” prosecutors wrote in an August 24 motion for reconsideration, arguing that Risen’s participation was indispensable to the prosecution of Mr. Sterling. “There is no non-testimonial direct evidence in this case that can establish what Risen can.”

“There are no recorded telephone calls in which Sterling discloses classified information to Risen, nor are there emails in which Sterling discloses the same.  Had there been such recordings or emails, that evidence would have been disclosed… and the government certainly would have provided such discovery after indictment.  There simply is no such evidence,” the prosecution motion said.

The motion specifically asked the court to affirm that Mr. Risen must not only authenticate the reporting in his book, for which Mr. Sterling was allegedly a source, but that he must also authenticate the original book proposal that he submitted to his publisher, a point that was not addressed in the court’s July 29 ruling (pdf).

“Risen’s book proposal identified his sources as ‘CIA officers involved in the operation’…. In addition, the book proposal contains very specific, classified information that the defendant and very few others knew, thus tending to prove that the defendant was the source of the information,” the motion said.

More broadly, prosecutors wrote, “The government has a compelling interest in prosecuting government employees who leak classified, national defense information.  Tow of the most important duties of the Executive Branch are prosecuting violations of federal criminal laws and protecting the nation’s security secrets.  Thus, there are few scenarios where the government’s interests can be more profound and compelling than a criminal prosecution involving national security interests.”

2 thoughts on “Govt Asks Court to Reconsider Subpoena for Reporter Risen

  1. Let’s be sure to tow those important duties of the executive branch out into the open . The weak point in the government’s case , is that i don’t think they can prove that only a few people knew the details of the operation that Risen published. It would certainly be interesting to see just how many people that information was exposed to within the intelligence community.

  2. Two of the most important duties of the Executive Branch are prosecuting violations of federal criminal laws and protecting the nation’s security secrets. That says a mouthful there. It seems to me that when they try these phishing expeditions, they are violating federal laws themselves. The Government lyres (Lawyers) have increasingly engaged in such behavior, since the 9/11 fiasco took place. In their eyes, everyone is considered guilty until proven innocent, but they will do anything to prevent that from happening, being found innocent. Today’s government has been flipped upside down, which seems as though by design, not by accident.

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