US Won’t Force NYT Reporter James Risen to Disclose Sources

Announcement Caps Years of Threats Against Top Journalist

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen won’t be forced to testify as to the sources of his 2006 book State of War, according to Justice Department officials familiar with the situation.

Risen became a target of the Bush Administration after uncovering the NSA wiretapping scandal. At the time, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales raised the possibility of jailing Risen outright for the book.

Though officials weren’t able to do that, they started trying to force Risen to implicate his presumptive source for part of the book, former CIA employee Jeffrey Alexander Sterling. The effort to force Risen to uncover his sources was seen as an administration move to punish Risen for his embarrassing revelations.

The push against Risen continued in the Obama Administration, which has sought to treat whistleblowers more harshly. The Justice Department seems to be convinced now that it can get a conviction on Sterling without Risen naming names, and faced with the embarrassing consequences of jailing a top reporter, seems content to let the matter drop.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of