Apr
17
2012

NYT: Iranians and Their Lying Religion

There are different ways media talk about how you can't trust Iran. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, for one, went straight for bigotry: "These Persians lie like a rug," he wrote in 2009. The New York Times took a slightly different route on Saturday (4/14/12) : Maybe Iran can't be trusted because their religion permits–or perhaps even encourages–duplicity. "Seeking Nuclear Insight in Fog of the Ayatollah's Utterances" was the headline over the piece by James Risen. It's hard to know what the fog might be; the Iranian leader who actually has control over the nuclear program–supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei–has […]

May
26
2011

The Curious Case of the CIA Whistleblower

Every so often reports surface about the Justice Department's prosecution of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling–often due to the government's attempts to convince New York Times reporter James Risen to testify about his interactions with Sterling. The Times reported on the latest such efforts yesterday (5/25/11): Federal prosecutors are trying to force the author of a book on the CIA to testify at a criminal trial about who leaked information to him about the agency's effort to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program at the end of the Clinton administration. Such efforts to get journalists to testify often lead media outlets to […]

Jun
16
2010

James Risen's Kindergarten Bloggers

If James Risen's blogger critics were in kindergarten, as the New York Times reporter suggests, when he broke the story about the NSA's warrantless wiretapping in 2005, then presumably they would have been in pre-K in 2004 when he first learned about the surveillance program. They would have moved up a grade as his paper sat on the story for a year (Extra! Update, 2/06), keeping news of the illegal spying under wraps until long after the 2004 elections. Apparently Risen's critics were born sometime around 1999, when Risen was helping to railroad atomic scientist Wen Ho Lee with false […]

Jun
16
2010

Risen's Blogger-Bashing Over Afghan Report

There's been plenty of commentary about Monday's front-page New York Times story (6/14/10) announcing, "U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan." Reporter James Risen's lead: The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan War itself, according to senior American government officials. Why this story appeared now was a question on a lot of people's minds, especially considering how Risen explained its timing: American and Afghan officials agreed to discuss the mineral discoveries at a difficult […]

Apr
29
2010

Obama's DOJ vs. the First Amendment

The Obama Justice Department–or at least one of its top prosecutors–is cracking down on investigative reporting without regard for the First Amendment. The first disturbing development was the indictment of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, whose leaks to the Baltimore Sun helped expose how the NSA's warrantless spying program deliberately failed to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens. Now the same prosecutor who indicted Drake–William Welch, who stepped down from a prior post as head of the Justice Department's public integrity unit after botching the prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska)–has opened a new front against freedom of the press. Welch […]

May
05
2009

On 'Normalized Torture' and Prosecution as a 'Cop-Out'

Even though "James Risen, David Johnston and Neil A. Lewis first told the world about waterboarding in May 2004," Dan Froomkin (WashingtonPost.com, 5/4/09) is having to argue that "that doesn't mean that the rest of us are as guilty as the people who committed the crimes–or that those who ordered those crimes should avoid accountability." While Newsweek's Jacob Weisberg and the Post's own Michael Kinsley are among those "arguing that the nation's collective guilt for torture is so great that prosecution is a cop-out," Froomkin has some "big problems with this argument": While it's true that the public's outrage over […]