Back in February 2008, a federal prosecutor in Bush's Justice Department issued a subpoena to James Risen of the New York Times, seeking information about who provided him with classified information that appeared in his 2006 book State of War. The book gave information on CIA attempts to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program and described a number of other highly classified details about covert efforts in that area. The step was widely cited as just another instance in which the supposedly ultra-secretive Bush administration was waging war on the press. But the Bush administration's investigation of Risen came to naught and the subpoena it had issued expired last year.

Lo and behold, today’s New York Times carries word that Obama's Justice Department is continuing the same war, and the target continues to be the very same James Risen.

The Obama administration is seeking to compel a writer to testify about his confidential sources for a 2006 book about the Central Intelligence Agency, a rare step that was authorized by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

Obama came into office pledging to run the most open administration in American history. Yet the move against Risen follows the indictment of Thomas Drake, a senior National Security Agency official, for passing secrets to the Baltimore Sun and that in turn follows the assertion of the state secrets privilege in an important court case.

What gives? Is the president now unaccountably reversing field and waging a war on the American press? Or do we have here, finally, a recognition that the revelation of secrets, particularly those involving ongoing classified intelligence programs, can place us all at risk?

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