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According to the New York Times, the Obama administration is seeking to compel writer James Risen to testify about his confidential sources for a 2006 book he wrote about the CIA--a rare step.

This comes on the heels of the Obama administration indicting a source alleged to have disclosed information about gross mismanagement and billions of dollars in waste at the NSA stemming from vast eavesdropping measures, about which I write an L.A. Times Op-Ed, here:

The lead prosecutor in both investigations is William Welch II. He formerly led the Justice Department’s public integrity unit, but left that position in October after its botched prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

I'm frankly appalled at President Obama's and Attorney General Holder's choices in these most recent matters.  Reporters and sources should not be crucified for disclosing information, often of illegality at the highest levels of the government, which is clearly in the public's interest to know.

James Risen is the New York Times reporter, who along with Eric Lichtblau, won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story of one of the biggest illegalites of my generation: warrantelss wiretapping.  He's clearly not some political hack making stuff up.

But he was subpoenaed Monday to provide documents and to testify May 4 before a grand jury in Alexandria, Va.--one of most conservative courts in the country--about his sources for a chapter of his book, "State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration."

The chapter largely focuses on problems with a covert C.I.A. effort to disrupt alleged Iranian nuclear weapons research.  Mr. Risen's lawyer stated that he would not comply with the demand and would ask a judge to quash the subpoena.

The subpoena comes two weeks after the indictment of a former National Security Agency official, Thomas A. Drake, on charges allegedly stemming from an investigation into a series of Baltimore Sun articles that exposed technical failings and cost overruns of several agency programs that cost billions of dollars.

If the media is truly serves as the "Fourth Estate" when the Executive Branch and the legislature all illegal conduct to occur, then both reporters and their whistleblower-sources (derisively labeled as "leakers") need to be protected.

This Obama-led witch-hunt is deplorable.  As Brandeis said, men fear witches and burnt women.  Government fears whistleblowers and, increasingly, is criminally prosecuting them.  

When people speak truth to power, let's not shoot the messenger.

Originally posted to Jesselyn Radack on Thu Apr 29, 2010 at 07:23 AM PDT.

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