If you talk by phone with reporter who reported NSA wiretaps, you can get dragged into Federal Grand Jury

If you talk by phone with reporter who reported NSA wiretaps, you can get dragged into Federal Grand Jury:

NY Times, April 12, 2008

Leak Inquiry Said to Focus on Calls With Times


WASHINGTON — Former government officials have recently been called before a federal grand jury and confronted with phone records documenting calls with a reporter who covers intelligence issues at The New York Times, according to people with detailed knowledge of the investigation.

A former official who was called before the grand jury in Alexandria, Va., said that he was shown extensive phone records that documented the date and duration of conversations with James Risen, a Times reporter in Washington, and that prosecutors were trying to identify Mr. Risen’s sources. Mr. Risen is fighting a grand jury subpoena for testimony about his sources for a 2006 book on the Central Intelligence Agency.

Justice Department officials have confirmed that prosecutors are trying to identify Mr. Risen’s sources for the book, “State of War,” and for articles he wrote for The Times about the nation’s spy agencies, to determine if his sources violated laws on the sharing of classified information.

But spokesmen for the department would not comment on details of the grand jury investigation, which is being conducted out of the federal courthouse in Alexandria.

The grand jury witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to draw new attention to himself, and others with knowledge of the investigation say it is unclear whose phone records were obtained by the Justice Department — if they were records of calls made from Mr. Risen’s phones or from the phones of officials who may have talked to him. The Times has not been subpoenaed for Mr. Risen’s office phone records, although there are other ways that the department could obtain them, possibly by a subpoena to phone companies without any notice to the newspaper. Department guidelines give prosecutors the ability to subpoena a reporter’s phone records if they obtain approval from the attorney general’s office.

Mr. Risen shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for articles that exposed the National Security Agency’s program of eavesdropping without warrants, and the Justice Department’s effort to identify the sources of those articles and of his book is one of several federal leak investigations singling out reporters and their sources.

In 2005, Judith Miller, then a reporter for The Times, was jailed for nearly three months after she initially refused to identify news sources in an investigation of leaks that identified a covert C.I.A. operative.

A freelance reporter in California, Josh Wolf, was freed from a federal prison last April after 226 days; he was imprisoned after refusing to testify before a grand jury and turn over tapes that he had made of an anarchist rally that turned violent in San Francisco.

The Justice Department is trying to block efforts in Congress to create a federal law to shield reporters from identifying their sources; a shield law exists in many states. The department has argued that a federal shield law would restrict its ability to identify government officials and others who leak classified information to reporters that might damage national security.

Joel Kurtzberg, a lawyer in New York who is representing Mr. Risen on behalf of both The Times and his book publisher, The Free Press, said he had no comment on the investigation.

Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, suggested that the investigation was one of several “really egregious” efforts by the Bush administration to limit press freedoms by intimidating reporters and their sources.

Ms. Dalglish said in an interview that as a result of Mr. Risen’s case and others, the committee was recommending that reporters stop using their home and office phones to communicate with sources on sensitive topics. “Do your reporting the old fashioned way — meet your sources on a park bench,” she said.

In January, Mr. Risen received a subpoena that, his lawyers said, appeared intended to force him to reveal his sources for a specific chapter in “State of War” that described efforts by the C.I.A. to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program. None of the material from that chapter appeared in The Times. The book also expanded on Mr. Risen’s reporting on the domestic eavesdropping program.

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