Journalists and the Right to Protect Sources

For reporters, there is a clear and persistent danger in the current state of affairs. In July, a federal appeals court ruled that James Risen of The New York Times had no more right than any other citizen to resist giving evidence against a former C.I.A. officer. The officer, Jeffrey Sterling, is accused of being a source for a chapter in Mr. Risen’s 2006 book, “State of War,” which describes a C.I.A. effort to trick scientists in Iran. It remains unclear whether Mr. Risen could be compelled to testify under the proposed shield law, because of wholesale national security exceptions written into the legislation. Some involved in that kind of reporting believe such a law would do more harm than good. Given the perils of defining who is a journalist and the continuing tension between open government efforts and national security, it will be difficult to come up with a shield that protects both speech and secrets. But in this instance, the perfect seems to be very much the enemy of the good. (via For Journalists, More Firepower to Protect Sources and Secrets – NYTimes.com)

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