The Daily Banter

Once and For All, There’s No Such Thing as “The War on Whistleblowers” and Here’s Why

One of the most tone deaf and unconstitutional things the Obama Justice Department could possibly do would be to imprison reporter James Risen of The New York Times for refusing to testify in an Espionage Act case during which he might be forced to give up his source for a series of articles about a CIA operation targeting Iran’s nuclear program. Whatever you might think about so-called “whistleblowers” or “leakers” or whatever label is more appropriately applied, the U.S. government is expressly prohibited from locking up journalists who refuse to rat out their sources, even if those sources provide top secret intelligence for publication.

Yes, there’s a possibility that Risen could be tossed in jail for not revealing his source during testimony in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA operative who was indicted under the controversial Espionage Act following an investigation that preceded the Obama presidency (the CIA’s Iran operation itself dates back to the Clinton administration). However, given how Risen has yet to be arrested in the six years since his subpoena was handed down, the chances of the current administration imprisoning Risen grows less likely by the day. The renewal of the subpoena in 2010 might simply be a scare tactic without any actual teeth. That being said, jail time would be an unequivocally damning episode in the presidency of a constitutional law professor who promised to turn the tide away from the harsher policies of the previous administration.

But on Friday night, Risen appeared as a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher and, among other things, repeated the tired meme that Obama is Worse Than Bush when it comes to press freedom and whistleblowers… CONTINUE READING