In a stunning ruling that put freedom of the press on a shorter leash, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning rejected an appeal from a New York Times reporter facing jail time for refusing to identify a confidential source.
Reporter James Risen, in his 2006 book State of War, described an elaborate scheme surrounding something called "Operation Merlin," a plan to sabotage Iranian nuclear research by having a Russian scientist sell flawed blueprints to the Iranian government.
But the Obama White House wanted to know Risen's source for the information. And when he refused, he was found in contempt for refusing to testify in court.
And this morning, the Supreme Court issued a one-line order, siding with the Obama White House. Federal prosecutors had argued in their briefing to the high court that "reporters have no privilege to refuse to provide direct evidence of criminal wrongdoing by confidential sources."