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NEW YORK - If you think it's only Republicans who try to get reporters to cough up their sources in the name of national security, think again.
Remember when former New York times reporter Judith Miller was incarcerated while George W. Bush was president? She spent three months behind bars for refusing to reveal her sources in a CIA leak about the identify of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA agent and wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
Well now it's time for a bit of deja vu.
Attorney General Eric Holder has authorized the issuance of subpoena which compels New York Times reporter James Risen to turn over documents and to testify before a federal Grand Jury.
He reported in his book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, about screw ups in the CIA's attempts to undermine Iran's nuclear weapons program.
So, let's get this straight.
The CIA fails in a mission to disrupt the Iranian program. But what's more important is - not its inability to do its job. Nope. What the government wants to rectify is the leaking of the information about the failure.
And to do that, it subpoenas the person who wrote about it.
Apparently, this administration, like the last, doesn't really understand that there's a First Amendment in the United States. Which grants Risen and Miller the right to report on the government - even if it's embarrassing - without fear of official retribution.
This is what separates the United States from totalitarian regimes where people are imprisoned or killed for their criticism of government.
The decision to subpoena Risen was ill conceived. It also shows that it really doesn't matter who is in power. It's the kind of authority that leads to abuses.
Risen's attorney says he will refuse to comply and will ask a judge to quash the subpoena. Let's hope he's successful. If not, another reporter likely will find himself imprisoned. And with him, so too will be some of the freedoms the Founding Fathers fought so hard for ensuing generations to enjoy.
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