It’s not a secret that the Obama administration has cracked down on whistle-blowers harder than any previous administration. Now a New York Times reporter and former Pulitzer Prize-winner has some harsh words for the president.
In addition to winning a Pulitzer Prize and reporting for the New York Times, James Risen is also the author of the 2006 book titled State of War. In his book, Risen speaks about nuclear secrets that were leaked to Iran following a botched intelligence operation. Due to this revelation, Sunday’s report in The Guardian shows that the Justice Department has been attempting to force Risen to testify and reveal the confidential sources that led to the information detailed in the book. The administration has pointed to former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling as the leak, but Risen won’t confirm or deny.
The Obama administration and the Justice Department are using the Espionage Act to get Risen to finally give up his sources, but Risen has stood pat. After the Supreme Court refused to review an order for Risen to testify, the former Pulitzer Prize winner could now face time in prison. Speaking to Maureen Dowd for her August 17th column in the New York Times, Risen referred to President Obama as a “hypocrite” for speaking up for whistle-blowers, but whose actions often show otherwise.
“A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin…They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”
The Guardian also notes that it was the Bush administration who originally tried to use the Espionage Act to clampdown on Risen. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Risen reported that the United States government was illegally wiretapping American citizens. The reporting won Risen his Pulitzer Prize, and the notice of the White House. The Bush administration followed by arresting Sterling, and the Obama administration has put the pressure on Risen to confirm him as his source. Risen continues to decline.
In a show of support, over 100,000 signatures were gathered for a petition started by the advocacy group “RootsAction,” calling on the White House to stop legal action against Risen and has since been delivered to the Justice Department. President Obama has also come under fire for his stance against NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who is currently under asylum in Russia.