Tag Archives: CIA

Court orders reporter to testify in leak case re: Sterling

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 188-page decision that there is no journalist protection of sources.  The decision can be viewed here.

In this case, ex-CIA officer Sterling worked for the CIA from 1993 to Jan. 2002.  During his tenure, he provided classified information to a NT Times reporter Risen.  In 2001, Risen published two articles based on classified information provided to him by Sterling.  After Sterling’s employment was terminated, Sterling attempted to publish a book but was denied ultimately because it contained classified information.

Afterwards, and while Sterling was pursuing legal action against the CIA, Sterling again gave Risen classified information.  NY Times Reporter met with senior administration officials to discuss the impact of the story.  The recommendation was to not publish, which the NY Times agreed to.  Nevertheless, NY Times reporter Risen published his book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,” which disclosed classified information.

As a result, the Attorney General sought to compel Risen’s testimony about the identity of his source.  Risen motioned to quash the subpoena on the basis that he was protected under the First Amendment or/and the federal common-law reporter’s privilege.

 

The Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.  The court held that Risen did not have a reporter’s privilege.  The Circuit Court of Appeals relied heavily on Supreme Court cases.

In Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665 (1972), the Supreme Court in no uncertain terms rejected the existence of a reporters’ privilege.   In Univ. of Pa. v. EEOC, 493 U.S. 182, 201 (1990), the Supreme Court explained that the “First Amendment does not invalidate every burdening of the press that may result from the enforcement of civil or criminal statutes of general applicability.”  In Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., 501 U.S. 663, 669 (1991), the Supreme Court again stated that the First Amendment does not “relieve a newspaper reporter of the obligation shared by all citizens to a grand jury subpoena and answer questions relevant to a criminal investigation, even though the reporter might be required to reveal a confidential source.”

Pointedly, the Circuit Court of Appeals refused to apply a “balance test” approach when deciding whether a reporter can be compelled to testify in criminal proceedings.  The court noted that in civil matters, the court recognized a reporter’s privilege which could be overcome if the 3-part test was met.

The Circuit Court of Appeals noted why this line is so important.  In criminal cases, there is a fundamental and comprehensive need for every man’s evidence.  For this reason, any shield to information has to be narrowly construed.  In a civil matter, however, the need for information does not share the same urgency or significance.

For these reasons, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered NY Times reporter Risen to testify in the criminal trial of former CIA official Sterling charged with providing the reporter with classified information.  In so doing, the Court of Appeals held that the First Amendment does not protect reporters who receive unauthorized leaks from being forced to testify against the people suspected of leaking to them.

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July 22, 2013 · 13:45

ACLU loses FOIA CIA request

he ACLU won’t get information on unauthorized interrogation techniques allegedly used by CIA agent on suspects captured in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a federal judge ruled.  You can read the opinion here.

The group sued the federal agency for refusing to release the records under the Freedom of Information Act. According to the ruling, the records are composed of reports written by the CIA Office of the Inspector General “relating to the detention, interrogation, or treatment of individuals apprehended after Sept. 11, 2001, and held at detention facilities outside the United States.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson dismissed the ACLU’s claims for all the records except for one, which the judge ordered to be remanded back to the CIA to determine if it holds information that has already been released.

The judge accepted the CIA’s argument that the records are protected by exemptions one and three of FOIA, which allow the government to withhold information sensitive to national security and protected by statute. In this case, the CIA cited the National Security Act as the statute protecting the records.

“The ACLU’s only argument is that interrogation techniques cannot be properly classified as intelligence sources or methods when they are ‘unauthorized,'” states Judge Jackson. “It provides scant support for this assertion, and there is nothing in statute or case law that requires courts to treat information about unauthorized interrogation techniques differently from information about authorized techniques.”After the ACLU’s initial complaint, the CIA released some records that were partially redacted, but withheld the 11 documents at issue in their entirety.

via Courthouse News Service.

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