We spend the hour with veteran New York Times investigative reporter James Risen, the journalist at the center of one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades. In 2006, Risen won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting about warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the National Security Agency. He has since been pursued by both the Bush and Obama administrations in a six-year leak investigation into that book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.” Risen now faces years in prison if he refuses to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer, Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of giving him classified information about the agency’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program, which he argues effectively gave Iran a blueprint for designing a bomb. The Obama administration must now decide if it will try to force Risen’s testimony, despite new guidelines issued earlier this year that make it harder to subpoena journalists for their records. Risen’s answer to this saga has been to write another book, released today, titled “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War.” “You cannot have aggressive investigative reporting in America without confidential sources – and without aggressive investigative reporting, we can’t really have a democracy,” Risen says. “I think that is what the government really fears more than anything else.” Risen also details revelations he makes in his new book about what he calls the “homeland security-industrial complex.”
James Risen Prepared to “Pay Any Price” to Report on War on Terror Amid Crackdown on Whistleblowers
James Risen on NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: He Sparked a New National Debate on Surveillance
The American Government Tried to Kill James Risen’s Last Book
By Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept
Not only did U.S. government officials object to the publication of the book on national security grounds, it turns out they pressured Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, to have it killed.
The campaign to stifle Risen’s national security reporting at the Times is already well-documented, but a 60 Minutes story last night provided a glimpse into how deeply these efforts extended into the publishing world, as well. After being blocked from reporting on the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program for the paper of record, Risen looked into getting these revelations out through a book he was already under contract to write for Simon & Schuster, a book that would look at a wide range of intelligence missteps in the war on terror.
In response, it seems, the government once again went straight to the top in order to thwart him.
When Risen’s “State of War” was released against the White House’s wishes in January 2006, it came to represent a watershed moment in the campaign to bring transparency to America’s post-9/11 national security state.
Despite the failure of government suppression efforts, it is nonetheless disturbing that White House officials would intervene not just to muzzle the Times’s reporting, but also to pressure the publishing industry to kill the story as well. In its zeal to stifle critical journalism in the name of protecting national secrets, the campaign against Risen’s work appeared to border dangerously close to outright censorship.
Risen is now facing potential jail time for refusing to divulge his sources for classified information. Nonetheless, he is standing firm.