James Risen (born April 27, 1955) is an American journalist for The Intercept. He previously worked for The New York Times and before that for Los Angeles Times. He has written or co-written many articles concerning U.S. government activities and is the author or co-author of two books about the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a book about the American public debate about abortion. Risen is a Pulitzer Prize winner.
|Born||1955 (age 63–64)|
|Alma mater||Brown University (AB) |
Northwestern University (MS)
Risen was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. He graduated from Brown University (1977) and received a Master's degree in Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism (1978). He is currently an investigative reporter for The Intercept.
Risen won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for his stories about President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program. He was a member of The New York Times reporting team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for coverage of the September 11th attacks and terrorism. He was also a member of The New York Times reporting team that was a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, for coverage of the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.
Risen has written four books: Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War (Basic Books) (Judy Thomas, co-author) (1998); The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB (Random House) (Milt Bearden, co-author) (2003); State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (The Free Press) (2006); and Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) (2014). State of War was a New York Times bestseller. Pay Any Price was also a New York Times bestseller. The Main Enemy was awarded the 2003 Cornelius Ryan Award for "best nonfiction book on international affairs" by the Overseas Press Club of America.
Risen and Eric Lichtblau were awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series of controversial investigative reports that they co-wrote about the National Security Agency's surveillance of international communications originating or terminating in the United States code-named "Stellar Wind" and about a government program called Terrorist Finance Tracking Program designed to detect terrorist financiers, which involved searches of money transfer records in the international SWIFT database. The Associated Press reported on May 24, 2011, that Risen was being called as a witness in the Jeffrey Sterling trial for alleged leaks of classified information.
Risen is the author of the book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (January 2006). The book conducted important investigations into Central Intelligence Agency activities. It states that the CIA carried out an operation in 2000 (Operation Merlin) intended to delay Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program by feeding it flawed blueprints for key missing components—which backfired and may actually have aided Iran, as the flaw was likely detected and corrected by a former Soviet nuclear scientist the operation used to make the delivery. In early 2003, The New York Times refrained from publication of the story after an intervention by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice with the NYT Executive Editor Howell Raines.
While doing research for the book, Risen's email and phone connections with former CIA Operations Officer Jeffrey Alexander Sterling were monitored by the US federal government. The US federal government also obtained Risen's credit and bank records. The CIA Public Affairs Office issued a press release alleging that Risen's book contains serious errors in every chapter. However, CIA documents released in January 2015 confirm many details on Operation Merlin.
Risen writes in State of War that, "Several of the Iranian [CIA] agents were arrested and jailed, while the fate of some of the others is still unknown", after a CIA official in 2004 sent an Iranian agent an encrypted electronic message, mistakenly including data that could potentially identify "virtually every spy the CIA had inside Iran". The Iranian was a double agent and handed over the information to Iranian intelligence. This also has been denied by an intelligence official. Risen also alleges that the Bush Administration is responsible for the transformation of Afghanistan into a "narco-state", that provides a purported 80% of the world's heroin supply.
The publication of this book was expedited following the December 16, 2005 NSA leak story. The timing of The New York Times story after the Iraq election in mid December 2005 is a source of controversy since the story was delayed for over a year. The New York Times story appeared two days before a former NSA employee, dismissed in May 2005, requested permission to testify to two Congressional intelligence oversight committees. Byron Calame, the Public Editor of The New York Times, wrote in early January 2006 that two senior Times officials refused to comment on the timing of the article. The Department of Justice (DOJ) also conducted an investigation of the sources of the security leak involving the NSA. Risen says this book is based on information from a variety of anonymous sources, that he would protect.
The issue of journalists protecting their anonymous sources was widely discussed during this time period due to the Valerie Plame affair. In that case, former New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for refusing to reveal a source for a story of hers. The Attorney General hinted in a Washington Post article on May 22, 2006, that journalists may be charged for any disclosure of classified national security information. President George W. Bush, in a June 25, 2006 news conference, was critical of the publication of information of classified programs by The New York Times.
Jeffrey Alexander Sterling was being investigated during the Bush administration. In 2010 he was indicted under the Espionage Act of 1917, one of the few people in US history whose alleged contact with a journalist was punished under espionage law.
Risen was subpoenaed in relation to the case in 2008. He fought the subpoena, and it expired in the summer of 2009. In what The New York Times called "a rare step," the Obama administration renewed the subpoena in 2010. In 2011, Risen wrote a detailed response to the subpoena, describing his reasons for refusing to reveal his sources, the public impact of his work, and his experiences with the Bush administration.
In July 2013 US Court of Appeals from the Fourth Circuit ruled that Risen must testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling. The court wrote "so long as the subpoena is issued in good faith and is based on a legitimate need of law enforcement, the government need not make any special showing to obtain evidence of criminal conduct from a reporter in a criminal proceeding." Judge Roger Gregory dissented, writing "The majority exalts the interests of the government while unduly trampling those of the press, and in doing so, severely impinges on the press and the free flow of information in our society."
The Supreme Court rejected his appeal during June 2014, leaving Risen facing the possibility of jail depending upon whether the federal prosecutors choose to pursue his testimony. He has stated that he will continue to refuse and is willing to go to jail.
In January 2015 The New York Times reported that Risen "will not be called to testify at a trial", which ended a seven-year legal fight over whether he could/would be forced to identify his confidential sources.
In an article that Risen co-wrote with Jeff Gerth for The New York Times that appeared on March 6, 1999, they allege that "a Los Alamos computer scientist who is Chinese-American" had stolen nuclear secrets for China.
The suspect, later identified as Wen Ho Lee, pleaded guilty to a single charge of improper handling of national defense information, the 58 other counts against him were dropped, and he was released from jail on September 13, 2000. No espionage charges were ever proven. The judge apologized to Lee for believing the government and putting him in pretrial solitary confinement for months.
On September 26, 2000, The New York Times apologized for significant errors in reporting of the case. Lee and Helen Zia would later write a book, My Country Versus Me, in which he described Risen and Gerth's work as a "hatchet job on me, and a sloppy one at that", and he points out numerous factual errors in Risen and Gerth's reporting. The New York Times was one of five newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, which jointly agreed to pay damages to settle a lawsuit concerning their coverage of the case and invasion of privacy.
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The 2006 Pulitzer Prizes were announced on April 17, 2006.
The board announced in December 2005, that they will consider more online material in all 14 journalism categories.For the first time since 1997, the Pulitzer board declined to award a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.Dasht-i-Leili massacre
The Dasht-i-Leili massacre occurred in December 2001 during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan when, depending on the sources, between several hundred to several thousand Taliban prisoners were shot and/or suffocated to death in metal shipping containers while being transferred by Junbish-i Milli soldiers under the supervision of forces loyal to General Rashid Dostum from Kunduz to Sheberghan prison in Afghanistan. The site of the graves is believed to be in the Dasht-e Leili desert just west of Sheberghan, in the Jowzjan Province. U.S. President Obama in 2009 ordered an investigation into the matter, which has yielded no (published) results.Some of the prisoners were survivors of the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi in Mazar-i-Sharif. In 2009 Dostum denied the accusations. According to all sources, many of the prisoners died from suffocation inside the containers, and some witnesses claimed that those who survived were shot. The dead were buried in a mass grave under the authority of Commander Kamal. Those who participated in the burial included Commander Taher Charkhi, who voices no regret for their deaths.
The allegations have been investigated since 2002 by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). PHR conducted two forensic missions to the site under the auspices of the United Nations in 2002. In 2008, PHR, working with the UN, documented that the grave had been tampered with.Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Free Press is the largest daily newspaper in Detroit, Michigan, US. The Sunday edition is titled the Sunday Free Press. It is sometimes referred to as the "Freep" (reflected in the paper's web address, www.freep.com). It primarily serves Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Washtenaw, and Monroe counties.
The Free Press is also the largest city newspaper owned by Gannett, which also publishes USA Today. The Free Press has received ten Pulitzer Prizes and four Emmy Awards. Its motto is "On Guard for 188 Years".
In 2018, the Detroit Free Press has received two Salute to Excellence awards from the National Association of Black Journalists.Diane Roark
Diane Roark is an American whistleblower who served as a Republican staffer on the House Intelligence Committee from 1985 to 2002. She was, right after 9/11, "the House Intelligence Committee staffer in charge of oversight of the NSA". Along with William Binney, Ed Loomis, and J. Kirk Wiebe, she filed a complaint to the Department of Defense's Inspector General (DoD IG) about the National Security Agency's highly classified Trailblazer Project. Her house was raided by armed FBI agents in 2007 after she was wrongly suspected of leaking to The New York Times reporter James Risen and to Siobhan Gorman at The Baltimore Sun in stories about NSA warrantless surveillance. This led to her suing the government in 2012 because they did not return her computer, which they had seized during the raid, and because the government failed to clear her name. The punitive treatment of Roark, Binney, Wiebe, and Loomis, as well as, and, in particular, then still active (rather than retired) NSA executive Thomas Andrews Drake, who had gone in confidence with anonymity assured to the DoD IG, led the Assistant Inspector General John Crane to eventually become a public whistleblower himself and also led Edward Snowden to go public with revelations rather than to report within the internal whistleblower program.Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award
The Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award is presented annually by Colby College to a member of the newspaper profession who has contributed to the country's journalistic achievement. The award is named for Elijah Parish Lovejoy, and established in 1952.Fred F. Fielding
Fred Fisher Fielding (born March 21, 1939) is an American lawyer. He held the office of White House Counsel for US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush in addition to serving as an Associate and Deputy White House Counsel for Richard Nixon under John Dean. Fielding was also of counsel to the presidential transition of Donald Trump.Global surveillance disclosures (1970–2013)
Global surveillance refers to the practice of globalized mass surveillance on entire populations across national borders. Although its existence was first revealed in the 1970s and led legislators to attempt to curb domestic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), it did not receive sustained public attention until the existence of ECHELON was revealed in the 1980s and confirmed in the 1990s. In 2013 it gained substantial worldwide media attention due to the global surveillance disclosure by Edward Snowden.Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting
The Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting is an award for journalists administered by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. The program was launched in 1991, with the goal of exposing examples of poor government, and encouraging good government in the United States. There is a $25,000 award for the winner.
The Goldsmith Awards Program is financially supported by an annual grant from the Greenfield Foundation.Jeffrey Alexander Sterling
Jeffrey Alexander Sterling is an American lawyer and former CIA employee who was arrested, charged, and convicted of violating the Espionage Act for revealing details about Operation Merlin (covert operation to supply Iran with flawed nuclear warhead blueprints) to journalist James Risen. The case was based entirely on what the judge called "very powerful circumstantial evidence," with no direct evidence that Sterling shared any classified information with Risen. In May 2015, Sterling was sentenced to 3½ years in prison. In 2016 and 2017, he filed complaints and wrote letters regarding mistreatment, lack of medical treatment for life-threatening conditions, and false allegations against him by corrections officers leading to further punitive measures. He was released from prison in January 2018.Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud
Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud was held, and tortured, in the CIA's archipelago of black sites, where it tortured individuals.Reuters reports Ben Soud is a Tanzanian who the CIA kidnapped in Somalia in 2003. The New York Times reports he is a Libyan who fled Libya and made a home in Pakistan, where he was seized. This report says the CIA transferred him back to Libya, in 2004, the torture state he had fled, where he was imprisoned until the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011. Ben Soud said that, in spite of its grizzly reputation, he was treated better in Libya than he had been by the USA.
Shortly after the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture came out the National Journal listed seventeen individuals who the CIA had tortured, without authorization. The National Journal reported how, even though Ben Soud's foot had been broken, while in custody, his interrogators continued to subject him to cruel physical tortures, that aggravated his condition such that a subsequent medical examination concluded, "even given the best prognosis", he "would have arthritis and limitation of motion for the rest of his life."
Ben Soud was one of three individuals who sued Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, the two psychologists the CIA paid $75 million to advise them on torture. On July 28, 2017, U.S. District Judge Justin Lowe Quackenbush denied both parties motions for summary judgment, noted that the defendants are indemnified by the United States government, and encouraged the attorneys to reach a settlement before trial.On October 9, 2016, Pulitzer Prize winners Matt Apuzzo, Sheri Fink, and James Risen published a front page article in the New York Times, entitled "How U.S. Torture Left a Legacy of Damaged Minds". The article recounted Ben Soud's description of the torture he endured, in detail.Operation Merlin
Operation Merlin was a United States covert operation under the Clinton Administration to provide Iran with a flawed design for a component of a nuclear weapon ostensibly in order to delay the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program, or to frame Iran.Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy
The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy is a Harvard University research center that explores the intersection and impact of media, politics and public policy in theory and practice.Among other activities, the center organizes dozens of yearly events for journalists, scholars and the public, many of which take place at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. Courses taught by Shorenstein Center professors are also an integral part of the Harvard Kennedy School's curriculum.
Since its founding in 1986, the center has also emerged as a source for research on US campaigns, elections and journalism. The center hosts visiting fellows each semester, who produce research on a broad range of topics. Papers have included "Riptide: What Really Happened to the News Business,"
by John Huey, Martin Nisenholtz and Paul Sagan; "Did Twitter Kill the Boys on the Bus?" by Peter Hamby of CNN and Snapchat; and "Digital Fuel of the 21st Century," by Vivek Kundra, who was the first chief information officer of the United States from March 2009 to August 2011 under President Barack Obama. In 2016, the center produced a series of four reports analyzing media coverage of the 2016 US presidential election, authored by Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press. The Shorenstein Center also awards the annual Goldsmith Awards Program, which includes the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and the Goldsmith Book Prize. Past winners have included James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times; Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne of the Chicago Tribune; and Debbie Cenziper and Sarah Cohen of The Washington Post. Other prizes and lectures given by the Shorenstein Center include the David Nyhan Prize for Political Journalism, the T.H. White Lecture on Press and Politics and the Richard S. Salant Lecture on Freedom of the Press.State of War
State of War may refer to:
State of War (game), a 2001 real-time strategy game
State of War (novel), a novel by Ninotchka Rosca
State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, a documentary review by James RisenSuleiman Abdullah Salim
Suleiman Abdullah Salim is a citizen of Tanzania who was held in extrajudicial detention, for five years, in secret CIA black sites. Salim was one of the individuals the United States Senate Intelligence Committee's inquiry into the CIA's use of torture identified as having been subjected to the most brutal torture. According to James Risen, in the New York Times CIA interrogators tortured him, even though he was a black African man, and the Suleiman Abdullah Salim they had intended to capture was an ethnically Arabic man from Yemen.Terrorist Surveillance Program
The Terrorist Surveillance Program was an electronic surveillance program implemented by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. "The program, which enabled the United States to secretly track billions of phone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens over a period of decades, was a blueprint for the NSA surveillance that would come after it, with similarities too close to be coincidental". It was part of the President's Surveillance Program, which was in turn conducted under the overall umbrella of the War on Terrorism. The NSA, a signals intelligence agency, implemented the program to intercept al Qaeda communications overseas where at least one party is not a U.S. person. In 2005 The New York Times disclosed that technical glitches resulted in some of the intercepts including communications which were "purely domestic" in nature, igniting the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy. Later works, such as James Bamford's The Shadow Factory, describe how the nature of the domestic surveillance was much, much more widespread than initially disclosed. In a 2011 New Yorker article, former NSA employee Bill Binney said that his colleagues told him that the NSA had begun storing billing and phone records from "everyone in the country."The program was named the Terrorist Surveillance Program by the George W. Bush administration in response to the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy following disclosure of the program. It is claimed that this program operated without the judicial oversight mandated by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and legal challenges to the program are currently undergoing judicial review. Because the technical specifics of the program have not been disclosed, it is unclear if the program is subject to FISA. It is unknown if this is the original name of the program; the term was first used publicly by President Bush in a speech on January 23, 2006.On August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled the program unconstitutional and illegal. On appeal, the decision was overturned on procedural grounds and the lawsuit was dismissed without addressing the merits of the claims, although one further challenge is still pending in the courts. On January 17, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed U.S. Senate leaders by letter that the program would not be reauthorized by the president, but would be subjected to judicial oversight. "Any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court", according to his letter.On June 6, 2013, it was revealed that the Terrorist Surveillance Program was replaced by a new NSA program, referred to by its codeword, PRISM.The New York Times controversies
The New York Times has been the subject of criticism from a variety of sources. Criticism has been aimed at the newspaper has been in response to individual controversial reporters, along with alleged political bias.The New York Times used to have a public editor who acted as an ombudsman and "investigates matters of journalistic integrity". The sixth and last NYT public editor was Liz Spayd, who contributed her last piece in June 2017.Utah Data Center
The Utah Data Center (UDC), also known as the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center, is a data storage facility for the United States Intelligence Community that is designed to store data estimated to be on the order of exabytes or larger. Its purpose is to support the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), though its precise mission is classified. The National Security Agency (NSA) leads operations at the facility as the executive agent for the Director of National Intelligence. It is located at Camp Williams near Bluffdale, Utah, between Utah Lake and Great Salt Lake and was completed in May 2014 at a cost of $1.5 billion.The Utah Data Center, code-named Bumblehive, is the first Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (IC CNCI) data center designed to support the US intelligence community. The "massive data repository" is designed to cope with the large increase in digital data that has accompanied the rise of the global internet.