Jailed & Subpoenaed Journalists -- A Historical Timeline
The First Amendment Center, a nonprofit educational group affiliated with Vanderbilt University's Institute of Public Policy, compiled this annotated chronology of American journalists who have been jailed or subpoenaed. The list starts in 1735 with the landmark libel trial of publisher John Peter Zenger and runs up to blogger Josh Wolf, who recently became the longest-jailed journalist in American history. The First Amendment Center also features informative overviews of shield laws, blogging and other press freedom topics.
The Reporter's Privilege Compendium
The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press (RCFP), a Washington, D.C.-based organization providing legal guidance to journalists, maintains this collection of laws and court decisions pertaining to reporter's privilege. Compare the laws in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the 12 federal court circuits. RCFP also publishes a quarterly magazine; the Fall 2006 issue explored the threat posed to journalists by the Espionage Act.
Branzburg v. Hayes
The 1972 case Branzburg v. Hayes was the first and only time the Supreme Court has ruled on whether the First Amendment grants reporters a privilege to protect the identities of confidential sources; the court ruled 5-4 that it did not. On Oyez.com, you can listen to the oral arguments or read the court's decision and Justice Powell's concurrence, which New York Times counsel James Goodale interpreted as allowing some qualified reporter's privilege in this law journal article. In 2003, Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner wrote an opinion reinforcing the original Branzburg ruling that there is, in fact, no reporter's privilege in the First Amendment.
Historical Perspective: Newspapers During Colonial Times
A summary by the First Amendment Center of how the press was viewed by the public in the 18th century, its role in the formation of the country, and how the principle of freedom of the press came to be included in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.
National Security Reporting & the Espionage Act
Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts
The first of Eric Lichtblau and James Risen's reports exposing the Bush administration's NSA wiretapping program and its surveillance of the SWIFT banking system. The first story questioned the legality of the program, but critics argued the second, which detailed the program's methods, did more damage to the war on terror. The duo won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for their work.
CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons
Washington Post reporter Dana Priest's original, Nov. 2, 2005, article exposing the CIA's secret prison system in Eastern Europe. Priest would go on to discover other "black sites" where terror suspects were flown for interrogation by the CIA. The Post also compiled this archive of Priest's stories on the occasion of her winning a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting for the secret prisons story and other national security reporting.
Peter King's letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) wrote this letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asking him to open an investigation into whether The New York Times had violated the Espionage Act in publishing its story on the government's surveillance of the SWIFT banking system.
AIPAC, Espionage Act & First Amendment
The non-profit First Amendment Center breaks down United States v. Rosen, in which the Espionage Act is being used for the first time to prosecute not just the leaker of classified information, but the recipients of the leak. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) received classified documents from Defense Department analyst Lawrence Franklin. Franklin pleaded guilty and has been sentenced, while Rosen and Weissman have been charged under the Espionage Act. Media advocates worry that their case could set a precedent under which reporters who received classified information could also be prosecuted.
The Bush Administration & the Press
Ron Suskind on the Bush Administration
Journalist Ron Suskind has written two books about the Bush administration: The Price of Loyalty, written with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, and The One Percent Doctrine, detailing the war on terror. But he has also written revealing magazine pieces about the administration and its relationship with the press, collected here on his Web site. In 2002's "Mrs. Hughes Takes Her Leave," Suskind profiled departing White House communications director Karen Hughes for Esquire. In 2003 he wrote "Why Are These Men Laughing", also for Esquire about the departure of then-Director of Faith-Based Initiatives John DiIulio. And just before the 2004 elections Suskind wrote "Without a Doubt" for The New York Times magazine about Bush's religious faith.
New Yorker media writer Ken Auletta takes an in-depth look at how the Bush administration manages the press in this Jan. 19, 2004, feature. "What seems new with the Bush White House is the unusual skill that it has shown in keeping much of the press at a distance while controlling the news agenda," Auletta writes. "And for perhaps the first time the White House has come to see reporters as special pleaders -- pleaders for more access and better headlines -- as if the press were simply another interest group, and, moreover, an interest group that's not nearly as powerful as it once was."
Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Times and Iraq: A Sample of the Coverage
On May 26, 2004, the New York Times printed an editor's note reviewing and critiquing its coverage of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Several of the paper's controversial WMD stories appear on this site, as well as other reports that, according to the Times, were closer to the mark.
"Media Coverage of Weapons of Mass Destruction"
In this March 2004 report, Susan D. Moeller of the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland critiques American news coverage of weapons of mass destruction during three recent periods: in 1998, when India and Pakistan clashed over India's nuclear weapons tests; in 2002, when the Bush administration began to argue for preemptive action on Iraq based on suspected WMD production; and in 2003, during the post-invasion search for Iraq's WMD. The study finds that the press often failed to distinguish among types of WMD or between WMD seekers and terrorists, gave too much credence to the sitting administration's viewpoint, and failed to represent dissenting views.
Heroes in Error
In this article from the March/April 2006 issue of Mother Jones, Jack Fairweather revisits the misinformation campaign mounted by Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC) -- with funding from the U.S. State Department. Chalabi's efforts resulted in the INC's "product" being placed in 108 news stories between October 2001 and May 2002, including the FRONTLINE report "Gunning for Saddam." Fairweather reports for the first time that one of the INC-provided defectors in that report may have actually been an impostor. (FRONTLINE also responded to this article when it first came out.)
The Plame Investigation
Media critic William Powers writes in The National Journal: "I think that, far from being an absurd hall of mirrors or a plague on the profession, the Libby trial is serving a useful purpose for journalists and their audience. Yes, it is complicated (another feature that is often bemoaned), but its complexity mirrors the world in which Washington journalists ply their trade. It's well known that this is often a rough place, a federation of users. But seldom does the public get to see precisely how it works, and why." (Feb. 9, 2007)
Background on the Plame Investigation
The Washington Post's archive of Plamegate stories -- covers the scandal from the infamous "16 words" in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address up to the most recent developments in the obstruction of justice trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Also includes a timeline, a guide to key figures, articles (including Robert Novak's July 2003 column, in which he published the name of Valerie Plame), and more.
The Libby Trial
Here is a collection of The New York Times' coverage of the Libby trial, featuring audio excerpts of Libby's grand jury testimony, other documents from the trial, articles and graphics, including "Did I Say That?," which explores memory and the statements of witnesses for the prosecution.
Office of the Special Counsel
This is the Web site of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. It includes the government's exhibits entered into evidence at the Libby trial, the indictment of Libby and other court documents.
"What I Didn't Find In Africa"
Here is former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's op-ed, printed in The New York Times on July 8, 2003. Wilson recounted his mission to investigate claims that Iraq had attempted to purchase yellow cake uranium from Niger. "Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat," Wilson wrote.
The BALCO Investigation & Josh Wolf
The BALCO Investigation: A Special Report
The San Francisco Chronicle has published this page highlighting the reporting of Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), as well as articles and documents related to the reporters' subsequent legal battles. The duo were subpoenaed to reveal who leaked grand jury testimony to them. Here you can read the stories based on the leaked testimony -- including this article about Yankees slugger Jason Giambi and this one about Giants star Barry Bonds -- the federal court decision ordering the reporters to testify and the article about defense attorney Troy Ellerman's Feb. 14, 2007 admission that he was the source of the leak.
Mark Corallo's Affidavit on the BALCO Leak Investigation
Mark Corallo, chief spokesmen for the Department of Justice from 2002 to 2005, submitted this affidavit on behalf of a motion to quash the subpoenas issued to the Chronicle reporters. Corallo writes that he recognizes the "immense national importance" of steroids in sports but also asserts that "there is no danger to life or issue of grave national security" that would justify subpoenaing the reporters. Attached as exhibits to his testimony are the official Department of Justice guidelines for sending a subpoena to a member of the news media.
This is the Web site maintained by supporters of the jailed video blogger Josh Wolf, who has been incarcerated longer for defying a court order than any journalist in American history. It includes a blog featuring occasional comments written by Wolf in prison and posted by friends.
"Leakers, Bloggers and Fourth Estate Inmates: The Misguided Pursuit of a Reporter's Privilege"
In this 2006 article from the Yeshiva University's Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal, former prosecutor Randall Eliason argues that a reporter's privilege is unnecessary. He is skeptical that the lack of a privilege has deterred confidential sources, and he notes that bloggers have complicated the debate by raising the question of whom should be considered journalists. Eliason also provides an overview of recent cases impacting reporter's privilege