Author gets subpoenaed to reveal CIA sources

James Risen

James Risen

The US government has issued a subpoena against a journalist who authored a book on the CIA’s operations during the years of the Bush administration. The move has surprised many, because the book in question, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, by New York Times journalist James Risen, has been out since 2006. The subpoena, which Risen received last Monday, requests him to testify before a grand jury about his confidential sources for chapter 9 of his book (pages 193-218), entitled “A Rogue Operation”, in which he describes in relative detail an attempt by the CIA to sabotage the Iranian nuclear weapons program. In the chapter, Risen writes of a thwarted CIA operation to pass to the Iranians a series of faulty nuclear bomb design documents. To do this, the Agency apparently recruited a Russian former nuclear scientist, who had defected to the United States. The unnamed scientist was told to travel to Vienna, Austria, in early 2000, and offer to sell the documents to the Iranians. But the documents contained a deliberate technical flaw, which, Risen alleges, the Russian CIA operative thought was so obvious that it could endanger the entire mission, by making him look untrustworthy in the eyes of the Iranians. The Russian scientist ended up letting the Iranians know about the flaw, reveals Risen. He further alleges that the CIA operation may have actually helped the Iranian nuclear weapons program, as Iranian scientists would have been able to “extract valuable information from the blueprints while ignoring the flaws”. Risen’s legal team has expressed its intent to have the subpoena dismissed, saying that The New York Times journalist “intends to honor his commitment of confidentiality to his source or sources”. Chapter 9 of Risen’s book has been reposted on Cryptome.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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