After the Justice Department obtained New York Times reporter James Risen's credit reports and credit card and bank records, it moved this week to subpoena the award-winning journalist's testimony in the trial of a former CIA agent accused of leaking of classified information.
But a DOJ spokeswoman said Tuesday that the Department takes subpoenaing reporters seriously and they'll only do it as a last resort.
"In issuing subpoenas to members of the media, the Department seeks to strike the proper balance between the public's interest in the free dissemination of information and effective law enforcement," Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said in an email.
"The government takes seriously its obligations regarding subpoenas to the media, following all applicable laws, federal regulations and department policies," Sweeney said. "We make every reasonable effort to attempt to obtain information from alternatives sources before even considering a subpoena to a member of the press, and only seek information essential to directly establishing innocence or guilt."
Sweeney pointed to a few key points in the government's filing on Risen's testimony. It states that Risen's testimony is directly relevant to facts that are squarely at issue in the trial against former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling because he "witnessed" the alleged crimes.
The motion claims that Risen could testify about information which would not require revealing the identity of the source, although it's not clear how Risen could possibly testify about the specific facts cited by DOJ without divuging the identity of his source. He could "establish venue for certain of the charged counts; can authenticate his book and lay the necessary foundation to admit the defendant's statements in the book; and can identify the defendant as someone with whom he had a source relationship that pre-dated the charged disclosures," according to the filing.
The government's filing also claims that Risen could testify about the "specific information that the defendant conveyed to him, much of which was publicly disclosed by Risen in his book," as well as "his recollection of where and when the specific information was transmitted to him," "testimony authenticating his book and laying the foundation for admitting the defendant's statements contained in it," and "his recollection of his preexisting non-confidential source relationship with Sterling, including his authorship of a newspaper article about Sterling's civil lawsuit in 2002."
None of that information, the government maintain, "is covered by any confidentiality agreement between Risen and his source, because none of this testimony would directly reveal the identity of his source."
Exempting Risen from testifying, federal prosecutors argue, "would mean exempting any reporter from testifying about any matter relating to his or her job - whether confidential or not."
Risen will fight the subpoena and said he will always protect his sources. He said the fight is "about the First Amendment and the freedom of the press."
The GOP field is now officially so weak that Rick Santorum is going to announce he's entering the race. [...]
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Deposed former President Hosni Mubarak will be tried for murder in the deaths of protestors in this spring's uprising. [...]
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Both sides prepare for aggressive spin-o-thon after tonight's results in NY-26. [...]
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Former President George W. Bush was almost hit by a foul ball at Monday night's White Sox vs. Texas Rangers baseball game.
White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski leaped toward Bush to try to catch the ball but missed.
"Just cause he was the president doesn't mean I wouldn't jump on top of him," Pierzynski told Bush, according to Fox's Orlando affiliate.
While on his tour of Europe, President Obama traveled to the Irish hometown of an ancestor yesterday where he drank a pint of Guinness, which he joked tasted “so much better here than it does in the States,” becasue “you guys are — you?re keeping all the best stuff here!?
Fox Business host Eric Bolling — who has been filling in for Glenn Beck in recent weeks and is rumored to be a potential replacement for the paranoid prime timer — was not amused, taking to Facebook and Twitter to slam the president for celebrating his Irish heritage while Americans suffer from the aftermath of the Missouri tornadoes:
“40′s” is a slang name for 40oz malt liquor bottles. But Obama drank from a pint glass (not a bottle) of beer that doesn’t come in 40oz bottles. Why did Bolling say Obama was “chugging 40′s”? As even some of Bolling’s Facebook commenter note, it’s an eyebrow-raising choice of words, given the beverage’s long-time association with African American stereotypes.
Throughout the late 80s and 90s, 40 oz malt liquor was rolled out with “aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at minority drinkers,” which often portrayed black actors and rappers in stereotypical or exploitative fashions. There is a fairly large body of academic literature exploring the relationship between malt liquor and African Americans, and 40 oz stereotypes were even mocked in the 2009 parody of “blacksploitation” films, “Black Dynamite.”
Hip hop culture has appropriated malt liquor, with numerous songs with “40 oz” in the title. “Rap artists have been popular images in malt liquor advertising and ‘gangsta’ rap performers portray malt liquor as a sign of masculinity,” a 2005 study of malt liquor consumption noted. But more socially conscious rappers have condemned malt liquor’s association with mainstream hip hop culture, with Public Enemy’s Chuck D writing an entire song — “One Million Bottlebags” — on the topic.
Last month, Bolling infamously devoted an entire segment to questioning the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate, after he had released the long form version, along with birther Islamophobe Pam Geller. (HT: LGF)
In the interest of "common ground," we could see a proposal like increasing cost sharing in Medicare. It would be astounding for Democrats to do so, coming off of a successful effort to blame Republicans for... increasing cost sharing in Medicare, by[...]
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Sen. Scott Brown might be under attack by some Republicans over his flip-flop on opposing the House Republican budget, but they've decided to adopt one of the talking points he used in his faint praise of the plan: "Democrats did it first."
Yes, as POLITICO's Ben Smith writes, Republicans have decided to go on the attack against Democrats on Medicare, using the playbook from 2010 when the cuts to Medicare Advantage in the Affordable Care Act proved a potent criticism with older voters.
Sen. Chuck Schumer vowed yesterday to make the Medicare changes in Paul Ryan?s budget a defining campaign issue for Senate Republicans in 2012?but Republicans plan to respond by reviving criticism of cuts to the Medicare Advantage program that were built into the 2010 health care bill...
"He and every other Senate Democrat went on to vote for it." one Republican staffer emails. "We'd agree with Schumer that in races such as this Medicare will be a key issue."
Republicans ran hard on the issue of Medicare cuts during the 2010 campaign?and it was part of the reason that senior citizens swung so hard towards GOP candidates.
Never mind that Medicare Advantage has only about 11 million enrollees?all of which still enjoy Medicare coverage, as opposed to the 46.5 million who would be left at the mercy of private insurers in the Republican plan. That's getting tot he policy weeds of this, but what about the politics?
Greg Sargent looks at that. He writes about getting an e-mail from the NRSC pointing to the Senate battleground states poll commissioned by liberal groups, arguing that that poll shows the vulnerability of Democratic incumbents over Medicare Advantage cuts. It's twisted logic, but Republican strategists are nothing if not twisted.
In the special House election in New York?s 26th district, where the GOP candidate is in trouble over her support for Paul Ryan?s plan to end Medicare as we know it, Republicans are fighting back by accusing the Democrat of wanting Medicare cuts because she said Medicare should be on the table.
This strategy ? attacking Dems from the left on Medicare, just as Dems are doing to Republicans ? amounts to an admission that Dems are winning the argument over Ryancare. It?s an effort to muddy the waters by persuading the public that both parties agree on the need to cut Medicare and even change it in a fundamental way ? and that the only argument is over the details....
[T]he political dynamic here could not be clearer. Dems, you have now been put on notice: If you agree to deep cuts in Medicare in the Biden-led talks, Republicans will see to it that you lose the political advantage you have built up by attacking Ryan?s plan. You may even lose the general advantage you have built up as the creators and defenders of popular entitlements programs that have helped define the Democratic Party for generations. Don?t say you weren?t warned.
You know they'll use it. They'll have no shame whatsoever in doing so. No matter what Sen. Mitch McConnell says about a "grand bargain" on Medicare and Social Security taking the issues off the table in 2012, it ain't gonna happen. If Medicare or Social Security cuts happen on a Democratic president's and Senate's watch, they'll be fair game.
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