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The Freedom of the Press Foundation writes today on the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to go to bat for New York Times reporter James Risen, who is being persecuted — I mean, prosecuted — to give up his sources to the government. The foundation writes:

This is the latest victory of the Obama administration in their crackdown on sources, and in turn, investigative journalism. As the New York Times again reminded us today, they have "pursued leaks aggressively, bringing criminal charges in eight cases, compared with three under all previous administrations combined."

Make no mistake, this case is a direct attack on the press. The Justice Department has recently tightened its "guidelines" for subpoenaing reporters (which have no enforcement mechanism) and the Obama administration claims it supports a tepid journalist shield law, but this was the case where they could have shown they meant what they said about protecting journalists' rights. Instead, they argued to the court that reporter's privilege does not exist all.

By going after Risen, the Obama administration has done more damage to reporter's privilege than any other case in forty years, including the Valerie Plame leak investigation that ensnared Judy Miller during the Bush administration. The Fourth Circuit is where many national security reporters live and work, and by eviscerating the privilege there, the government has made national security reporting that much harder in an age where there has already been an explosion in use of surveillance to root out sources of journalists.

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Read the foundation's whole piece here

Risen, by the way, was one of two reporters who broke the story this weekend about the National Security Agency collecting photos it can use for facial recognition capabilities.

And in case you're interested, we wrote last year about how law enforcement in South Dakota can use our state's driver's license database to perform facial recognition searches

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Contact Joe O'Sullivan at 394-8414 or joe.osullivan@rapidcityjournal.com

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