Home > Free Speech, Obama > Journalists can now be forced to testify on their sources

Journalists can now be forced to testify on their sources

July 19, 2013

raffaella_biscuso_Judge_hammerSometimes I just wish Obama supporters would actually look at what his administration is doing. In a big loss for First Amendment rights it was decided in Federal Court that a reporter can be forced to testify about their sources. This from Bloomberg:

New York Times reporter James Risen must say at a trial whether former CIA official Jeffrey Sterling, accused of leaking classified information, was a source for his book, a federal appeals court ruled.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, today reversed a lower-court judge’s ruling that found Risen’s testimony, sought by federal prosecutors, was blocked by the First Amendment.

“He is the only one who can identify Sterling as the perpetrator of the charged offenses, and he is the only one who can effectively address Sterling’s expected efforts to point the finger at others,” U.S. Circuit Judge William Traxler wrote in the majority opinion.

Sterling is charged with leaking information to Risen in violation of the Espionage Act. The information was made public in a chapter in Risen’s “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,” which revealed a covert operation involving an attempt to supply Iranian officials with flawed nuclear weapons plans.

His trial was put on hold while the appeals court considered challenges to evidence the jury may hear.

Sterling is one of seven Americans charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 during President Barack Obama’s administration, twice as many as in the previous 90 years. All were accused of leaking secrets to journalists in violation of a law that prohibits disclosure of national defense information to anyone not authorized to receive it.

Since taking the Presidency it has apparently been Mr Obama’s top priority to punish all whistle-blowers and leakers. This is especially true when these whistle-blowers and leakers are trying to bring transparency of actions taken by the US Government. As Scott Schackford at Reason notes  “If such a ruling holds up, it’s yet another incentive for overclassifying all government information.” Whistle-blowers and leakers will so be afraid to talk with journalists about anything simply because they will fear the administration will persecute them. The Obama administration has already by over-classifying information; this move will give them reason to do so even more often. I guess this is considered a “win” for President Obama in his war on whistle-blowers and leakers.

If the administration truly cared about constitutionally protected rights they would have refrained from trying to force a reporter to give up its source. Instead the administration has tried to show they care even less about individual rights than GW Bush and has taken the bully approach. The Obama administration has used this opportunity to show its contempt for the First Amendment and government transparency. Remember government transparency? Neither does Obama. Ironically increased transparency was a pivotal campaign promise in both of his presidential campaigns.

  1. July 20, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Reblogged this on Tiffany's Non-Blog and commented:
    It’s tragic how spot-on this blogger is on this post.

  1. August 27, 2013 at 4:16 pm
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