Monday, August 1, 2011

Judge Limits Risen's Testimony in CIA Trial

Courthouse News Service
Ryan Abbot

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - New York Times reporter James Risen, the bestselling author of "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," must testify in the criminal trial of former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, but prosecutors may not ask him to reveal his sources, a federal judge ruled.

     U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema agreed with Risen's request that his testimony be limited to confirming that he wrote a particular newspaper article or chapter of a book, that statements referred to in his articles and books made by unnamed sources were in fact made by unnamed sources, and that statements made by an identified source were in fact made by the identified source.

     Brinkema's order approved in part Risen's motion to quash a subpoena from the federal government, which sought his testimony in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of leaking information to Risen.

     Risen's 2006 best-seller reported numerous and allegations of CIA mismanagement under several presidential administrations.

     The government subpoena sought the names of Risen's confidential sources, specifically for Chapter Nine, which focused on Operation Merlin, a "reportedly botched attempt by the CIA, during the Clinton Administration, to have former Russian scientist pass on fake and intentionally flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran."

     Risen also reported on the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program.

     Those reports, he said, led the Bush Administration to single him out for political harassment.

     "The Bush White House was furious over that story," Risen in a lengthy affidavit attached to his motion to quash.

     A memorandum opinion will be attached to Judge Brinkema's order after a classified information security officer reviews it.

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