Court Rules Journalist Can Be Compelled to Reveal Leaker

The latest ruling in the Obama administration's war against leakers is troubling for journalists and their sources. A federal appeals court says journalists can be compelled to reveal names of people leaking them classified information.

Via 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.

If such a ruling holds up, it's yet another incentive for overclassifying all government information.

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  • RightNut||

    Most transparent administration in history.....

  • Dweebston||

    This is the inflection point, yes? A foundational right is compromised by the feds. Not just any right, but the First Amendment. Lefties love that, unlike the icky Second. So now is when the left abandons the administration and joins libertarians in opposing federal encroachments, right?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Yu Soo Phun Ni.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    A pilot program.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    (Pointing at federal prosecutor) "It was him!"

  • Paul.||

    A federal appeals court says journalists can be compelled to reveal names of people leaking them classified information.

    What we need is some kind of journalist shield law, to allow journalists to report and speak with confidence...

    By the way, this is how Obama will get his shield law. He'll continue to attack journalists while shouting from atop his horse, "See? Journalists are under attack, we need a shield law!"

    It's like TARP, he'll keep funneling billions to banks and corporations while screaming about how banks shouldn't be getting money.

  • ||

    Luckily I don't think he's smart enough to actively pursue such a tactic. What will happen is he'll aggressively pursue leakers and journalists, and his moronic sycophants will say "we need a journalist shield law; Obama would totally sign off on that!" So it will effectively be like you say, but not because of slyness on his part, but because of the boundless stupidity of his supporters.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    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,”

    MOOOOOOO...I mean, BUUUUUUSSSHHHHH!!!!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You know who else was a risen guy and was put on trial?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    General Tojo?

  • sloopyinca||

    Jesus Christ?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    "I don't recall."

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    "It was some Puerto Rican guy."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Um, I thought it was established law (or at least practice) to not go after journalists but just the leakers.

  • ||

    It doesn't sound like they're going after the journalist, just trying to get to the leaker through him.

    Either way it is utter horseshit.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If the journalist can be compelled, that means the government can take action against the journalist if he refuses to give up the leaker.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The Obama administration has altered the agreement. Pray they don't alter it any further.

  • RagingAlbino||

    Your lack of faith in the government is disturbing.

  • ||

    I am sure if this guy hunkers down and goes to federal prison, president 'you didnt build that' will whip out his autopen and pardon him immediately.

  • thom||

    I'm sure he broke some law by receiving classified information. He's not protected by the first amendment, he's protected by the fifth.

  • sloopyinca||

    The latest ruling in the Obama administration's war against leakers is troubling for journalists and their sources. A federal appeals court says journalists can be compelled to reveal names of people leaking them classified information.

    Are the courts part of the Obama administration now?

    /nitpick

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