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tv   Freedom of the Press  CSPAN  August 17, 2014 12:05am-1:18am EDT

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ock here on c-span. >> another look at the freedom of the press with a news conference held by the institute for public accuracy. then, the police response in ferguson, missouri to protest over the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen. >> "new york times" reporter talks about being subpoenaed to testify at the trial of a former cia officer accused of leaking information. he spoke in a news conference with other journalists on freedom of the press and protecting confidential sources. this is one hour, hosted by the institute for public accuracy.
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>> journalists are once again on the front line courageously trying to cover news developments in the most difficult circumstances. late last night, the national press club issued a statement expressing its deep concern about reports that at least two reporters from the washington post and the huffington post who were covering the unrest in ferguson were manhandled and detained by police officers there before being released. other reports backed up by video
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taken during the disturbances show that some television crews were hampered by authorities from doing their professional duties. this is all unacceptable. we urge the police and other authorities in ferguson to let the journalists carried out their professional mission, to report the news in an unfettered manner, to do otherwise is a violation of the freedom of press enshrined in the first amendment of our bill of rights. acceptable, very much unacceptable is the threat of james riing faced by zon of the new york times. this morning, a petition signed by more than 100,000 persons was delivered to the department of justice declaring "we support n because we support a free press." 20 poets are
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prizewinners who declared their support for him who is refusing to name a source for information about a bungled cia operation in iran that appeared in his 2006 book state of war. we are pleased and honored that james rizon who is still under threat of prison is with us today. the national press club presented him its domestic freedom of the press award in 2012 for a career of reporting material the government would prefer to keep from public view. warrantless surveillance to the botched program to give iran flawed nuclear weapons designs. he was also honored for resisting government attempts to get it to reveal his confidential sources. that the national press club through its active freedom of the press committee under the leadership of john donnelly has continued to him as well as today's petition.
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i would like to introduce norman of rootscofounder action.org. executive director of the institute for public accuracy. he is the author of a dozen books on media and public policy and is a recipient of the annual ruben salazar journalism award as well as the george orwell award. has been cordoning the petition campaign in support n. mr. sullivan. [applause] thank you. in the morale room. i think it is fitting because it was 60 years ago that in perhaps his most well-known and well remembered tv broadcast, edgar -- edward r. murrow said we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. he said that at a time when it was essential for journalists to
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step forward to lance a boil of fear and intimidation that had gripped official washington for years and the entire country as well. that was 1954. 2014.e are in the events today are part of i think the very strongly accelerating effort across this boil of fearnce a and intimidation. we don't talk anymore so much about a chilling effect, we talk about a freezing effect. we talk about ice cubes that congeal. we talk quite properly and accurately about an obama administration that seems determined to gut the meaning of the first amendment.
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as the petition that we presented this morning to the department of justice spells out, it is really the functionality of the first amendment that matters. it is a brief petition that i would like to read the entire brief text to you. obama and attorney general holder, your effort to compel new york times reporter to reveal his sources is an assault on the freedom of the press. without confidentiality, journalism would be reduced to official stories. the situation is antithetical to the first amendment. we urge and the strongest terms to halt all legal action against him and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources. well, as myron mentioned, there
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were 14 statements released on monday. since then, there have been six toe who have approached us add their individual statements. all of them are posted at roots action.org where people can also find a way to sign onto to the petition, which is ongoing. thate briefly emphasized the names on the petition we dropped off and that are on screen, are not just names. they are an activist network heard we know how to reach them, we have everybody's e-mail address and we are just getting started here. it is all about organizing at this point, in terms of mobilizing the social understanding and political pressure that will be necessary to turn around what is truly a deteriorating, dreadful situation. the many organizations involved are only in part represented
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here. folks we will hear from today one -- aing for just few of the many groups that are involved. thatt to emphasize really we are embarking on something that might be unprecedented, a collision between an administration that talks good and a mobilized citizenry that increasingly understands what is at stake. today really marks the culmination of one phase of that growing effort and the initiation of the next. withe will move ahead now news conference, another part of this effort to lance that oil of fear and intimidation that has been doing so much damage to journalism and democracy in our
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country. i would like to introduce greg leslie. directoral defense with the reporters committee for freedom of the press. he has been an attorney with reporters committee since 1994 and served as a legal defense director since 2000. he supervises the committee's amicus brief writing efforts and journalism hotline services. he is regularly interviewed by journalists on many topics. americanember of the bar association's free press task force, chair of the d.c. ours media law committee, and many other positions before and during law school he worked as a journalist. he was a research director for washington business and political magazine. here he is, greg leslie. [applause]
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>> thank you, and i'm happy to be here to support james rizon and encourage the department of justice to stop pressuring him to testify. where been actively involved in this case from the start and we have been working with the department on reform of its own guidelines regarding media subpoenas. while that certainly can feel like a sisyphean task, it is critical to engage of the government on these issues, even incremental progress is something. ultimately, threats like these from the federal government must the addressed by enactment of a thatngful shield law recognizes that reporters need to be independent of the judicial system, not because they are above the law, or because they want to avoid the burden of participating in the legal system, but because journalism needs that independence to truly help hold the government accountable to the people. the reporters committee was founded in 1970 over this very issue. addressed to reporters from
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subpoenas that led to the branzburg v hayes case and the need for a federal shield law. in the decade that followed, there almost 100 journalist shield bills introduced in congress. the effort was taken up again in earnest after the valerie plame timesnt in which new york reporter judith miller eventually spent 85 days in jail for refusing to disclose her confidential sources. that shield law efforts started than are ongoing. it takes a while to get these things through congress. in 2007 the house overwhelmingly approved a shield bill. when that didn't pass in the senate in 2009, a similar bill assed on a voice vote on suspension of the rules. it was so noncontroversial that a roll call vote was not even needed. the senate has not passed such a bill yet, but in 2009 the judiciary committee did send a bill to the floor. it failed to win a place on the
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somethings debate on called obamacare suddenly took over the agenda. it kind of sidetracked things for a while. the latest attempt at passage of a journalist shield bill came after last summer's disclosure of thess subpoena associated press his phone records to track down a leak ,bout a cia operation in yemen and the revelation that the department of justice had successfully obtained a search warrant of a fox news reporters gmail account. by saying he was involved in a crime, by telling a court in order to get the search warrant that he was involved in a crime "at the very least either as an aid or, a better and or co-conspirator." that was really something for the government to come out and say a reporter by asking a government employee for information was guilty of aiding, abetting or co-conspiring in an espionage charge.
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actions against the ap and fox news came to light, president obama ordered attorney general holder to review policies for subpoenas of journalists work. a policy statement was released as a report to the president in july of last year. media representatives involved in that process fought for provisions that would make such efforts more difficult for prosecutors and at least lead to greater notifications to journalists before their third-party records were subpoenaed, we knew at the same time that of course the department of justice was saying it fully intended to subpoena reporters in the future if they really needed the evidence to prosecute a leaker. fox news incidents also prompted more congressional action on a shield bill. a bill was approved by the senate judiciary committee last september, almost a year ago now. although it still awaits senate floor action. house has not taken up a legislation that the legislation at all this year and the current makeup of the house is not quite
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the same as it was in 2009, so we don't know what will happen there. the fight over the right to keep journalist sources confidential is literally older than the republic. a colonial printer refused to disclose the authors of attacks against the governor of new york in 1734 and thus was himself charged with seditious libel. a century later in 1848, news of the treaty of guadalupe hidalgo, ending the american -- the mexican american war, was first reported after newspaper reporter of the new york herald was told of the still secret terms. he spent a month basically under house arrest in the capital. in 1896,after that john moore, a baltimore sun reporter reported that another elected official and police officers were taking payoffs from gaveling houses. when he refused to name his
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source before a grand jury, he was imprisoned until the grand jury's term expired. the significance of this case is this jailing prompted baltimore journalists to push for the then unheard of legislation that would protect them from having to reveal sources, identities in court very it reporters privilege. much like the spousal privilege or the doctor/patient privilege. the statute has been amended a few times, but the state has never felt the need to resend the protection. in the century since then, i've not seen another 38 states and the district of columbia enact such shield laws. those state's shield laws that provide the real protections to journalists, has the right at the federal level is weikel than ever. thanks to the states efforts, we know that shield laws work. now more than ever it is time to demand that congress pass a meaningful shield law. congress must act now and acknowledge that the government's accountability to the people comes primarily
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through independent watchdogs, including not just journalists but whistleblowers as well. one of the greatest things those in power can do is enact limits on their own powers. congress must take that bold step now. thank you. [applause] >> our next speaker is the outside counsel for the freedom of the press foundation. he's a professor at uc hastings law school where he directs the liberty, security and technology clinic. his casework addresses constitutional issues that arise in espionage and counterterrorism prosecutors and. ahmed was the lead counsel in the first criminal case to challenge bulk metadata collection by the nsa after the snowden disclosures. he currently represents journalist barrett brown. he formally taught at the national security clinic at the university of texas school of law, he was a staff attorney at reprieve u.k., where he
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represented guantánamo detainees in their habeas corpus proceedings. >> good afternoon. it is an honor to be here today, not only because i admire mr. risen's journalism, but what rings is together transcends the freedom of the press foundation, it transcends the impressive roster of supporters that have spoken and written in encouragement. what brings us together today is the first amendment of the constitution, specifically the portion of that amendment guaranteeing the freedom of the press without persecution or unnecessary prosecution. thomas jefferson once claimed a democracy cannot be both ignorant and free. the framers of the constitution believed if u.s. citizens failed to take good care to share information completely amongst
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themselves, they would be worse off than they had been as subjects of the british monarchy. to that end, the first amendment recognizes that freedom is not just a luxury, but a necessity. to allow a government to function and continue to exist, the people must be informed. it's a simple mantra for a great nation. the development of our free society is the result of journalism reporters like james risen provide. the core of our free society is that and the public persona or front-page scoop is the crux of their profession -- that is newsgathering. the heart of our freedom and the freedom to publish the news is the freedom to gather the news. justice sutherland wrote in 1936 that newspapers, magazines, and other journals in this country has continued to shed more light on the public in business affairs of the nation than any other instrumentality of publicity. since informed public opinion is
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the most important of all restraint on this government, the abridgment of the publicity afforded by free press cannot be regarded otherwise without grave concern. so it is with grave concern that we gather today to confront a real threat to our nation's security. for who are we if we are not secure in our ability to hold government accountable? these freedoms are not without limitation. but to be clear, mr. rison broke no law gathering the news, broke no law proliferating the news and publishing his articles and books. nor can the justice department make such claims. there is no law that mandates to the press to obtain government approval about legally acquired information. there is no dispute that such a law would be unconstitutional as a restraint on speech and would transform this great country from being a democracy to becoming a totalitarian state.
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yet james risen delayed publication for years out of an abundance of caution until it was clear to him the government's desire to censor him was not a matter of national security, rather it was a matter of national embarrassment. to be clear, the government does not seek to compel information from mr. risen to put an end to an existing threat -- to stop a terrorist attack or even an ongoing crime. the government seeks information ordered to investigate an alleged leak that occurred years ago by someone else. quite frankly, i'm puzzled as to why the doj needs to use them to make their case or them. you would think with all the resources expended on federal law enforcement, the fate of our nation would not rise and fall at the feet of a 59-year-old reporter revealing his sources. and i'm sorry to give away your age. [laughter] by initiating and executing investigations that monitor
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e-mails, phone calls, and even credit reports of journalists, the government has made it clear that it does not fear the chilling effects of to our free press and does not value the dogged investigative reporting that has contributed not only to our great democracy, led to the history of mankind. either way you look at it, mr. risen and all journalists are faced with a hobson's choice, either to practice a form of journalism consistent with the first amendment and risk prison or practice a form of journalism to release the information they permit them to reveal only those facts the executive deems fit for public consumption. mr. risen has chosen the path consistent with the first amendment and it's not likely many will follow in his footsteps. in the end, it is the american people that have paid and will continue to pay the price.
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thank you. [applause] >> our next speaker is director of the national security and human rights program at the government accountability project. it is the nations leading whistleblower organization and the program that focuses on secrecy, surveillance, torture and discrimination. she has been at the forefront of defending against the government's unprecedented war on whistleblowers which of course has hit journalists very hard. among her clients, she represents seven national security and intelligence member employees who have investigated or been charged under the espionage act for allegedly mishandling classified information, including edward snowden, thomas drake and john kiriakou. she worked at the justice
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department for seven years for first as a trial attorney and as a legal ethics advisor. [applause] >> good afternoon. anyone who doubts that the war on whistleblowers is a backdoor war on journalists should study the case of james risen. threats to reporters are the undercurrent in the obama administration's record-setting espionage act prosecutions of the so-called leakers. one example where the press is implicated is when the justice department subpoenaed associated reporters phone records impacting over 100 different journalists. in the case of another
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whistleblower, stephen kim, the justice department got a search warrant on the reporter by claiming he was a co-conspirator. in the case of my client edward snowden, the administration has made noises about reporter glenn greenwald being an aider and abettor. considering the administration's use of the espionage act to chill speech, it should be no surprise that threats against risen come from espionage act prosecution of another whistleblower. jeff sterling. and risen's honorable commitment to protect the source that revealed the disastrous government operation gone wrong. whistleblowers need the press. there are no safe and effective internal channels for most national security and
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intelligence whistleblowers. channels that do exist often turn whistleblowers into targets of retaliation and rarely correct the underlying wrongdoing, especially when the wrongdoing is perpetrated by senior levels of the u.s. government. the press, i would submit, also needs whistleblowers. journalists depend on whistleblower sources to report critical information in the public interest. without whistleblowers, journalists would struggle to unpack government or corporate spend without differing perspectives or, in many cases, without documentary evidence. as a whistleblower attorney, there are a small but essential handful of reporters i feel confident will accurately report information and protect their sources. james risen is one of them. if he is jailed or forced to pay harsh fines, the pool reporters
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who know whistle blowers are essential for accurate reporting will become even smaller. the threats to jim risen are an attack on the entire first amendment. most prominently the right to a free press, but also the right to speak and associate with whistleblowers and reporters. government surveillance of reporters, subpoenaing of reporters to testify against their own sources and threatening them with contempt of court create a freezing atmosphere where neither whistleblowers nor reporters are safe to hold the government accountable and keep the public informed. committing journalism is not a crime. the notion that it is is a dangerous trend we should deprive of oxygen. it demands the government
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withdraw the subpoena of reporter jim risen immediately. thank you. [applause] >> our next speaker, courtney raj, is a journalist and free expression advocate who writes and speaks often on the intersection of media, technology and human rights, with a particular emphasis on the middle east. she is currently advocacy director at the committee to to protect journalists, where she's leading the right to report campaign aimed at ending surveillance and harassment of journalists. prior to joining cpj, she was at unesco where she coordinated the freedom of expression section strategy in the arab region. she also previously managed the global freedom of expression campaign at freedom house and has worked for "al arabiya," "the daily star" in lebanon, and "the new york times."
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[applause] >> thank you. the committee to protect journalists is seriously concerned about the actions taken by the department of justice and the ongoing efforts to subpoena jim which could have a chilling effect on the u.s. media and journalists, if it has not already had that impact. cpj was founded in 1981 by a group of u.s. correspondents who realized they could not ignore the plight of their colleagues abroad who's reporting put them at risk on a daily basis. since then, they have defended the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. last year, we decided the crackdown on leak investigations and revelations about the extent of surveillance in a post 9/11 world necessitated us to look inward and way and on the threats to press freedom in the
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united states. this is why we are here today. in support of jim and as a former colleague at the "new your times," i'm happy to be here in solidarity with his efforts to protect his confidential sources and the integrity of the journalistic practice. the obama administration has pursued 8 prosecutions of leakers under the espionage act, more than twice the total numbers of such prosecutions since the law was enacted than any other administration all combined. the subpoena requiring jim's testimony is part of the broader crackdown on leaks and whistleblowers. a cpj special report published last october concluded
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the obama administration's aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information, revelations about broad surveillance programs, and moves to stem the routine disclosure of information to the press shows the president has fallen far short of his campaign promise to have the most open government in u.s. history. several journalists interviewed for the report told cpj leak investigations and surveillance revelations made big government fearful to talk about sensitive information. and prosecutions such of those of jim have had a profoundly detrimental impact on the process of journalism and the first amendment. publicly speculating about bringing charges of espionage or prosecutions more generally of journalists for doing their job serves to intimidate not only the individual journalist, but journalists more broadly. and has a serious chilling effect on the press. this is likely to be stronger among journalists who do not have the backing and protection of a major media organization with legal resources. revelations about targeted surveillance and hacking of journalists and media outlets is also deeply problematic. you heard those described
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earlier. having read jim's affidavit explaining why he cannot testify and detailing the extent of government harassment and surveillance of electronic communication, it is clear if he is forced to testify, he would likely put at risk the confidentiality of his source. furthermore, these type of aggressive prosecutions send a dangerous signal to governments elsewhere that would seek to use national security and antistate charges as a cover for clamping down on journalists and press freedom. according to cpj research, nearly 60% of imprisoned journalists worldwide are imprisoned on antistate charges such as subversion or terrorism. that is far higher than any other charge, such as defamation or insult, and it is a favorite of oppressive regimes who see little value in a free press. furthermore, undermining the principle of source protection and the idea that journalists like doctors and others have the
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right to keep sources confidential has implications for the robust practice of journalism. in 2012, the justice department argued that reporters' privilege should not apply in national security cases and compare journalists to someone receiving drugs from a dealer. preventing journalists from being able to promise confidentiality to their sources undermines the key aspect of journalism central to so much reporting on issues central to the public interest like national security, like antiterrorism, and are central to holding government accountable and to the democratic process. the u.s. government's ongoing legal pursuit of jim sends a terrifying message to the 124 journalists jailed worldwide on antistate charges and detracts from its normative moral power abroad. i do not think the united states wants to join cuba in becoming the only other country in the
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western hemisphere to have an imprisoned journalists that is what is at risk here. it's harder for the u.s. to be taken seriously when it advocates for press freedom and journalistic rights abroad when they are abridged at home. governments have many obligations -- to enforce the law, to protect citizens and prevent attacks. but they also have an obligation to uphold the constitution and uphold democratic principles upon which this society is built and to ensure the functioning of the democratic process, in which the press plays a central role. the committee to protect journalists calls on the u.s. department of justice to withdraw its subpoena seeking to force journalist james risen to give testimony that would reveal a confidential source. [applause]
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>> our next speaker has worked as the director of the washington office for reporters without borders since 2011. she runs u.s. activities for the program and advocates for journalists, bloggers and media rights worldwide. acting as reporters without borders' spokesperson in the u.s., she appears regularly in american and overseas media and lectures at conferences at u.s. universities about press freedom violation issues. she previously served as press attaché in charge of outreach at the french embassy in the united states and worked as an economics correspondent for a range of french media focusing on international politics and macroeconomic issues. [applause] >> thank you norman and thank
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you to roots action for all the work you did to this campaign together. and thank you to all of you for being here today. i will be short, as a lot has already been said, and i am looking forward to hearing james risen. the united states is at the 46th position in the reporters without borders' 2014 press freedom index. the world press freedom index we have published every year since 2002 measures the level of freedom of information in 180 countries and reflects the degree of freedom journalists, news organizations and bloggers enjoy in each country. one explanation for the united states to be ranked at the 46th position is the whistleblower is the enemy.
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eight alleged whistleblowers have been charged under the espionage act since barack obama took office in 2009, which is the highest number under any previous administration combined. there is no true freedom of information, no true freedom of the press, without protection of journalists' sources. leaks are the lifeblood of investigative journalists. given that nearly all information related to national security is classified in this country, it is safe to say this crackdown against whistleblowers is designed to restrict all but officially approved versions of events. this highlights the need for a comprehensive federal shield law in the u.s. which could protect journalists' sources at the federal level. at the moment, the senate shield law project supported by the obama administration still has major flaws. 2013 will remain the year of the associated press scandal which came to light when the
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department of justice acknowledged that it received the agency's phone records. 2013 will be remembered as the year where we saw a man condemned to 35 years in prison. it will also be remembered for the revelation of edward snowden, who exposed the nsa. and now, well 2014 be remembered as the year when jeff risen was sent to jail for doing his job? i hope not. we hope not. reporters without borders is deeply worried by the continuing efforts taken by the department of justice to force james risen to testify against his confidential source. reporters without borders calls on the department of justice to halt all legal action against
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james risen. reporters without borders is largest press freedom organization in the world with almost 30 years of experience. thanks to its unique global network of 150 correspondence investigating in 130 countries, 12 national offices and a status at the u.n. and unesco, reporters without borders is able to have a global impact by gathering and providing underground intelligence and defending and assisting news providers around the world. today, we are here to defend james risen, to defend the first amendment. because freedom of the press is the most important freedom. it is the freedom of all of us to verify the existence of all other freedom. thank you. [applause]
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>> i should mention this news conference is hosted by rootsaction.org and cohosted by the institute for public accuracy. there are more than a dozen organizations with logos on the petition online. i hope you will take a look at that constellation of groups -- you can get in touch with them and look at that position at rootsaction.org. our next speaker pioneered the audience participation talk format on television as host of the donahue show for 29 years. phil donahue has 20 emmy awards, nine as host and 11 for the show, as well as the peabody award, as well as the president's award from the national women's political caucus and the media person of the year award from the gay and lesbian alliance. he has done a lot over the decades, groundbreaking interviews with world leaders and newsmakers. there is so much to say and i
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will be very brief. i personally remember, as millions of people do, how in 1985, he introduced the satellite space bridge telecast between the united states and the soviet union in the midst of a lot of very cold part of the cold war and then brought his talkshow to russia for a week of television broadcast. phil donahue was the first western journalist to visit chernobyl after the nuclear power accident there. in 2006, phil coproduced and codirected the documentary, "body of war," with a very powerful journalistic and cinematic focus on one young iraq war veteran left in a wheelchair by enemy fire and the parallel process of machinations on capitol hill. phil donahue. [applause] >> thank you and congratulations
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for assembling this very important event. i was a journalist. i was a journalist first for wabj in adrian, michigan -- the proverbial 150 watt radio station. i wondered whatever happened to wabj, so i googled it, and there it was. the washington association of black journalists. wabj is gone now, but it's a place where i learned a lot about journalism. i was 21 years old. i must have looked 12. i had a tape recorder with literally vacuum tubes and i could stop the mayor in his tracks. i covered city hall, i covered my first murder, i played ball with the cops so i would cultivate my sources, and i began to really understand what a noble pursuit journalism is.
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now here i am at the press club with a lot of the people who i really -- if they were all men, they would be the sons my mother wanted to have. [laughter] i am very flattered to have norman ask me to make an introduction of james. i have monitored my talk show meter now, which he is saying all right, get off. but i asked the patients of the good people at the press club for this one observation. every major metropolitan newspaper in this country supported the invasion of iraq. mcclatchy's, warren strobel, and jonathan landay are exceptions, but many of their own papers did not publish their own work.
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they said where's the evidence? wmd, where? this is what you get with corporate media. when i was a reporter in adrian, michigan, i did not have to take a test. i just said, i was a reporter. i did not have to pee in a bottle. all you had to do was get out there. that's the way you have more people getting the news and it's more likely that somewhere in the collective victual of this large crowd will be found the truth. today, the collective middle is occupied by five multinational companies, much more interested in the price of their stock than they are in funding investigative journalists, who by the way are not necessarily cost-effective, as we know. investigative journalism can lead you down a rabbit hole with nothing to publish when you are finished. that makes what james risen has
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done all the more important. at the time when the mainstream media has a lot on its mind and a lot to be ashamed of, the president said during the iraq buildup, you cannot take pictures of the coffins and the whole media establishment said ok. we are not fighting back. if we ever needed to bite back, it is now -- with the bill of rights being eroded and the fundamental values of our founders. we have no habeas. we have people in cages. no nothing, no phone calls. miranda, schmiranda -- don't make me laugh. the american people are standing mute. we heard from our media as the bill of rights and the fundamentals of this nation are
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eroding before our very eyes. into this environment comes james risen. we think we should put him on a pedestal and apparently the president believes he should be put in jail. what is wrong with this picture? it is for that reason we assemble here today, hoping the 20 pulitzer prizewinners who have lent their names to this will be joined by thousands and thousands of other americans who agree we have sent thousands and thousands of people to die for the privilege of the first amendment and the right of a free press. james risen is one of those people who took advantage of that right -- who doesn't want it to die as we stand here mute as people in power who don't want to be embarrassed and begin to listen on your phone or mine.
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now is the time for more of the kind of journalism james risen is doing. and it's that reason i have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present to you a great american, a patriot, james risen. [applause] >> wow, i don't know if i can >> wow, i don't know if i can live up to that. [laughter] i have to think about that for a minute. i just came here really today to thank everybody involved with this. i was not involved with this petition drive at all and anybody who knows me knows i could not organize a one car funeral. the fact that this has happened leaves me speechless. the main thing that gets to me is i realize i don't deserve all this.
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but i also know that it is really not about me. it's about some basic issues that affect all journalists and all americans. there are a couple of things i can say and one is that the justice department and the obama administration are the ones who turned this into a fundamental fight over press freedom. in their appeal to the fourth circuit, they said this case, the central issue in this case was not some details or specifics. the fundamental thing this case
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was about was there was no such thing as reporters privilege. if you read the government's brief in the fourth circuit appeal, it's what they say -- there's no such thing as a reporters privilege. so they turned this case into a showdown over the first amendment and freedom of the press in the united states. i am happy to carry on that fight, but it wasn't me who really started it. [laughter] this has been a long case -- i got subpoenaed in 2008 first, but what i can say now is with all of these people showing their support, i'm willing to keep fighting because now i know i have just an enormous group of people supporting me.
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one of the things i would like to say is the real reason i am doing this is for the future of journalism. my oldest son, tom, standing right there, is a journalist. i want to make sure the same protections i have had in my career are there for the future reporters in america. there is no way we could do our jobs if we don't have the ability to have aggressive investigative reporting in america and have the ability to maintain confidential sources. there is just no way to conduct aggressive investigative reporting without a reporters privilege of some kind, without confidential sources.
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i don't believe you can have democracy without aggressive investigative reporting and freedom of the press. so i just wanted to come here again and say thank you to everyone. it is really amazing. thank you. [applause] >> can you talk about how this has affected your ability to do your job? >> i did not want to answer questions. it has obviously had an effect. but i try to keep working. i'm just trying to do what i can. thanks. [applause] >> we have a bit of time for q&a. because this is being streamed live, i would like to ask people to go to the mic there, which is
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live, if there are any questions. please keep them brief and identify yourself and news organization. i think i see a little movement in this direction. are there any questions? over to my left. >> i'm reporting with take part media. this is to james -- i know you do not want to have questions, but we are here to defend press freedom. i know that attorney holder says no reporter is going to jail for doing his job, can you speak to the specifics of how the case is going to play out from now on? it is my understanding you have no other options to appeal. timing or whatever specifics you can share on that.
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>> call my lawyer. [laughter] just a brief answer -- mr. holder has said that on his watch no reporter will go to prison for doing his job. however, the alternate evil -- it is just as bad or worse for the first amendment. i'm talking to a room full of reporters and if i tell you doing your job will result in bankruptcy, will you continue doing your job? it's that simple. thank you. >> stephen nelson from u.s. news. president obama just gave a press statement less than an hour ago about the missouri protests. he said police there should not be bullying or arresting reporters who are doing their jobs. i would like your opinion on whether you welcome this or whether the president should take his own advice here?
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for anyone -- >> one thing i meant to say was i wanted to express my support for the reporters who were arrested and detained in ferguson. the central question we are all facing now is how does the first amendment and the freedom of the press survive in a post 9/11 age? it is all part of the same issue. >> ria novosti. i would like to ask someone on the panel -- i know you mentioned the trend away from democracy and toward an authoritarian form of government. other speakers brought up cases where the administration, whoever is sitting in the
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executive office, basically gets to determine the narrative of truth and whoever brings up a counter narrative is either slandered, not published, or other things happen. if you or perhaps someone else on the panel could address this trend, also that it is happening more and more under president barack obama -- bush was criticized so much from the left and now it is happening under a liberal or a democrat as a president. where is this trend going? >> i think with this case illustrates, the broader trends, are some threats to press
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freedom, but i think it's important to put that into a global context. there are many countries, including russia, that have far worse press room records and were journalists are imprisoned or killed and their murderers are never investigated. in most cases of journalist murders, nine out of 10 are never investigated. we know of several outstanding in russia as well. so we do have to keep this in perspective. there are threats to the free practice of journalism and luckily we live in a country that has rule of law and due process. in many countries, those things are missing, so let's keep this in perspective and not let this become an excuse for authoritarian governments to use in their crackdown on press freedom. >> nor should we let the fact that authoritarian regimes exist give us an excuse to browbeat journalists that are doing their
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jobs. i think that the core of the issue is the expansive national security state. one can make an argument that in the name of national security, you can do x, y, or z. you can censor speech by classifying certain information and so on. the problem is the number of classified documents has increased exponentially since 9/11 and that has turned into something where information that is embarrassing to the government becomes classified. i know this in my experience as an attorney representing guantánamo detainees and later representing criminal suspects in the united states. had you asked me five or seven years ago if i thought my expertise in national security or in guantánamo would make me suitable or be the value added to joining a case where i represent a journalist -- just
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think about that. i get calls from journalists that want me to represent them because i represented guantánamo prisoners. that is perspective. [laughter] >> i've got another question for james -- i know you don't want to take any more questions, but could you talk about the harassment you faced under the bush administration for your national security reporting and the fact that this subpoena was dropped by the bush administration and has been renewed under the obama administration. >> you are going to get me in trouble with my lawyers. first of all, the subpoena was not dropped under the bush administration. it expired. the first one expired in 2009.
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it was after the bush administration left and then it was renewed by the obama administration, a whole series of subpoenas. in my affidavit, in one of them, i think i filed several of them i talk about the harassment i got during the bush administration, so that is public in the court documents. where i describe all of the efforts, both public and some private efforts by the administration to in my view, to harass me and try to have a chilling effect on reporting i was doing. if you remember, if you were in 2005 or 2006, there was a lot in the press about that. it was a
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fairly concerted effort against me and eric licthblau, my colleague at "the new york times." it got pretty intense. >> i wonder how hopeful are you this collective effort will make a dent -- what would follow and a sideline question -- is this an opportunity to push back against a federal shield law? >> i will address the first part of that. in 2008, obama delegates at the democratic national convention -- i can say the democratic party has given hope a bad name
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in the past years. your question about how hopeful i am, i have some trepidation to directly answer. i do think this is an inherently a political case being pursued by this administration. you will notice if you go to rootsaction.org, you can read all the statements. also at the freedom of the press foundation website, all of the statements issued, 20 this week by pulitzer prize winners. one of those journalists flat out said something i think is true based on the evidence -- this is a vendetta against james risen. and if you read john rizzo's book, the former head of the legal department the cia that came out this year, "company man" he makes clear there has been a lot of hostility towards
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james risen at the cia for a while. he is the most vilified journalist in the entire book, memoirs of 30 years. that to me indicates the political nature of this entire effort by the justice department. the hope that i think we generally have is continued momentum of what we have seen in recent weeks to bring this issue to public spotlight and create more of a groundswell of public pressure. anybody have comments on the other aspects? >> one thing i see from these kinds of actions is that first of all if you look at it, there is a political washington and there's a career washington. it is really career washington, the fbi, the nsa people who do these investigations and want to
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stop leaks in the first place. post 9/11, they have had more and more power to track that information. my point is not to give the obama administration any breaks here, but it's going to get worse no matter who is in charge politically. the best and maybe only antidote to that is a groundswell of public support. that says we're not going to stand for this anymore. that's why petitions like this are so important. that's also hopefully going to lead to a federal shield law. congress does not act in the abstract. it needs to see, unfortunately, someone going to jail or threatened with jail to really get going and ask. in the states, we often see shield laws enacted when there's a state controversy. and on the federal level it has happened the same way. first with valerie plame and
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then with other incidents. this is the kind of thing that will prompt action and i hope it is enough along with the popular outpouring in favor of it to get something done in congress. >> i had a follow-up for you. you were talking about the shield laws being discussed in the senate and the house, would those apply to the ones like james risen? >> it's all in the wording, but we think it is finessed enough to say that the exemption for national security cases is going to come into play when there is an ongoing threat to national security. not when there is an effort to examine something in the past. as long as we maintain that -- obviously the wording can change day to day it goes through every step of congress, but that's a critical thing. the government will always want the ability to investigate incidents where there truly is a current, real, meaningful threat
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to the national security and we are never going to win that one. it makes sense if there's literally a bomb that's going to go off, they want to investigate everything they can. as long as that limit is in there and we can keep it, it can be meaningful and i think it can help in cases like this. >> i'm not a journalist, have a follow-up question. i'm a law student at stanford and i'm doing a phd there. i worked with trevor at freedom of the press and am curious if you can talk or about how the shield bill would protect, as it is written, journalists like mr. risen. i know he spoke at the sources and secrets conference and said he did not think he would the protected under the bill as it is currently written. i think the language you are pointing to, in the senate version, there's language about preventing or mitigating future attacks. and the idea of preventing or mitigating doesn't seem to have
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a future tense to it. the idea of mitigating attack seems likely to be focused on any sort of ongoing terrorist activity so anything could be covered under the exception. i ask you this because i wonder if you can help me see the bill you see it. the way i read it, everyone is going to fall through the loophole, so the way it is written now it might do more harm than good. that said, aside from the shield bill, are there other solutions you might be able to put forward that might be equally useful to help address the kind of situation we are seeing here? thanks. >> the thing i would point out is everything we hope for is an incremental change. there is no golden ticket that's going to solve everything. you can't ask the government to solve everything. they will not do it. it has to be by reporters continuing to do great work and having the public stand up for that. with that in mind, we never felt the shield law was perfect.
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we feel it's an incremental change. we never felt the national security exception should be as broad as the senate wanted to be. but you fight over every little word and hope to get something that will put the brakes on most investigations. and mitigating harm from a terrorist attack, if that is the only exception, that is going to stop a lot of the subpoenas we have talked about, a lot of the whistleblower investigations we have talked about even today or when we name all the ones the obama administration is looking into, it is not a cure-all. there is no perfect way to get all of this done. but every little thing helps -- getting the department of justice to have a better policy about what they will do before it issues a subpoena is a big step. the assistant u.s. attorney out there who now knows he has to
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jump through a lot of hoops and ask for permission from washington and directly from the attorney general will hesitate much more often than an ausa who can subpoena anybody. or get any records. it all helps and none of it is perfect is the best i can say. we never thought the shield law was perfect. i would argue for absolute privilege and the courts, if only the courts would agree with me. >> i think we have time for one more question. >> a question to james risen. this is not about your work but it's about the effect of the last six years on your sources. are they still motivated or even more motivated and what new guarantees do they ask? what has changed in their way of coming out with the information, especially in the sector of
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national security? >> you don't really think i'm going to answer that, do you? [laughter] i'm not going to answer it. thanks. [laughter] >> i will give you an answer, at least as someone who is representing the sources in a lot of this. i've mentioned there are -- i can count on two hands the number of journalists i actually feel safe taking a whistleblower to in this country because of the climate. one of them is jim risen. it's a very strict test to ask someone if they would be willing to go to jail to protect a source. whistleblowers have to face that question every day now. are you willing to go to jail to blow the whistle and tell the
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truth and reveal fraud, waste, abuse and illegality? are you willing to be the one put in jail or exiled from your country and rendered stateless? it's a huge price to pay that both whistleblowers and journalists are taking to get this information out to the public interest, and we need your support in congress on protection bills for whistleblowers, on surveillance reform bills, and reporter shield bills. i know in the whistleblower protection legislation the national security exemption loophole swallows everything because i could probably link this glass of water to national security if you give me five minutes. i hope that helps answer. >> can i make two quick points? go ahead. >> i just want to add to that -- the community to protect journalists put out a report last year that includes dozens of interviews with journalists
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about the impact of these issues on their reporting. it is on our website, but it is essentially a broad overview, it has had an impact on sources going -- not only whistleblowers but sources and general and the society of professional journalists recently sent a letter about new rules that have come out from the administration and from various departments of the government prohibiting basic contact with journalists. the insider threat program and other things like this that cpj and others have signed on to in opposition. we see across the board, from whistleblowers to general functionaries and subject experts that this is having an impact on reporters being able to speak to their sources. >> on that note, i want to mention as we adjourn the news conference -- we do have this room for another hour for one-on-one interviews and
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discussions, so you don't have to rush off, but i want to thank everybody for being here. [applause] >> i just want to add before everyone leaves -- i'm president of the newspaper guild and we did award the herb block freedom award to james risen yesterday, which we hope you will receive in october. it's not enough to commit journalism, you have to act to protect it. and that is why we honor james risen, and it was the knight ridder bureau in the lead up, to iraq, then it became mcclatchy. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> c-span prevents -- presents
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