Pulitzer Prize Winners Call on DOJ to Withdraw James Risen’s Subpoena

james-risenIt has been over two months since Eric Holder suggested DOJ will not force New York Times report James Risen to go to jail to protect his sources for a story about a botched attempt to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.

As long as I’m attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail. As long as I’m attorney general, someone who is doing their job is not going to get prosecuted.


But Holder’s statement did not stop DOJ from defending their subpoena forcing Risen to testify all the way up to the Supreme Court. And DOJ has not withdrawn the subpoena.

Today, 14 Pulitzer prize winners — including people like Dana Priest, David Barstow, James Grimaldi, and Gretchen Morgenson — issued a statement supporting Risen and his fight to keep his sources secret.

In her statement, Dana Priest noted how long the government has been pursuing Risen and accused CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.

If the U.S. government were so concerned about the information revealed in Jim Risen’s stunning chapter on a now 14-year-old CIA operation against Iran gone wrong, it would have moved quickly to resolve this matter eight years ago when it was first published. Instead, it seems obvious now that what officials really want is to hold a hammer over the head of a deeply sourced reporter, and others like him who try to hold the government accountable for what it does, even in secret.

As Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama classified more and more of the government’s actions over the last 14 years, denying the public critical information to judge how its democracy is faring, it has fallen to reporters like Risen to keep Americans informed and to question whether a gigantic government in the shadows is really even a good idea. We will all be worse off if this case proceeds.

Note Priest treats Bush and Obama’s increasing secrecy as one and the same.

For more statements and signatures, see this post.

On Thursday, DOJ will received a petition with over 100,000 people calling for DOJ to halt all legal action against Risen.

After so many years, isn’t it time for the government to give up this witch hunt?

About Marcy Wheeler

Investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler wrote the "Right to Know" column for ExposeFacts. She is best known for providing in-depth analysis of legal documents related to "war on terrorism" programs and civil liberties. Wheeler blogs at emptywheel.net and publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon and the Progressive. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy. Wheeler won the 2009 Hillman Award for blog journalism.