Eric Holder Blinks: Won’t Force Reporter James Risen To Reveal Source (Or … – Techdirt
Well, that backfired big time.
Earlier this week, the judge in the case told the DOJ that it had one week to decide if it was going to call Risen as a witness:
Since June 2,2014, the United States has had over six months to decide whether it will
subpoena James Risen to testify at this trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday, January 12,
2015. Because Mr. Risen’s presence or absence at the trial will have a significant impact on how
the parties present their case, a decision about Mr. Risen must be made sufficiently before trial to
enable the parties to prepare adequately.
Combine that with Eric Holder’s repeated promise that he wouldn’t put a reporter in jail (with the ridiculous loophole that depended on whether Holder decided that reporter was “doing his job” or doing something that Holder decided was not, in fact, “his job”) and it should come as little surprise that Holder has now blinked and said that the DOJ will not force Risen to reveal his source. Instead, the DOJ says that if they ask Risen to testify, it’ll solely be to “confirm that he had an agreement with a confidential source, and that he did write the book.”
It’s great that the DOJ is basically no longer threatening Risen with jail, but there is no reason at all that it had to wait so many years and go right down to the judge-imposed wire. Instead, the DOJ let Risen dangle for many years with the threat that he might have to go to jail to protect a source. That’s ridiculous and a shameful abuse of power to intimidate a great journalist.
Of course, there’s one upside for Risen: if you’re a whistleblower looking for a journalist you can trust, it looks like the DOJ just vouched for Risen’s credibility in keeping his sources secret.