Court rules journalists can’t keep their sources secret
July 19, 2013
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that New York Times journalist James Risen must testify in the trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency officer accused of leaking classified national defense information to the media.
A lower court ruled previously that Risen could protect the source responsible for sharing intelligence about a CIA operation discussed in his writing, but the US Court of Appeals from the Fourth Circuit reversed that decision Friday morning with a 2-1 vote.
“The reporter must appear and give testimony just as every other citizen must. We are not at liberty to conclude otherwise,” Chief Judge William Traxler Jr. wrote for the majority opinion.
The appeal panel’s decision came just days after United States Attorney General Eric Holder presented President Barack Obama with a proposal that would re-shape current law as it applies to journalists in order to more greatly ensure that reporters aren’t targeted during investigations unless other routes that exhausted first. That maneuver came on the heels of two highly public recent Justice Department scandals in which the White House was revealed to have subpoenaed the phones records for several Associated Press offices and also the email history of Fox News reporter James Rosen.
“Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law,” Obama said during a May 23 address after those scandals first surfaced.