The Law of the Land has become whatever the president and his designated federal agencies decides it shall be.
|James Risen (AP Photo)|
James Sterling, a former CIA employee, has been accused by the government of being Risen’s source, and is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act for the criminal disclosure of the information.
The Obama administration won an important ruling against Risen in July before a three-judge panel of judges serving on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that said reporters can be ordered to testify about their confidential sources in criminal cases, or be jailed for refusing.
Risen’s defense team appealed to the court asking for it to convene a full session of the 15 judges serving in the Fourth Circuit to decide whether the journalist should be granted First Amendment protection that would spare him from having to reveal the identity of his source.
In response to Risen’s appeal, the Justice Department filed a legal argument (pdf) with the court that strongly opposes any further consideration of the case.
Prosecutor Neil Macbride has argued that there is no such thing as a reporters’ privilege in a criminal trial, and therefore, Risen should be denied a full hearing of the appeals court.
As for Sterling, he faces 10 felony counts, including obstruction of justice and espionage. He is the seventh individual within a four-year span to face prosecution under the Obama administration for leaking government secrets. Others include Army Private Bradley Manning and National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Prior to Obama, only three such cases were prosecuted under all previous presidents combined.
Obama Administration Asks Court to Force NYT Reporter to Reveal Source (by Ed Pilkington, The Guardian)