Can Novak Be Ordered to Divulge Source?
There seems to be some interest focusing on whether Robert Nowak can be made to divulge the source of the leak about the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. First Amendment expert and law professor Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy tentatively weighs in. Here's the applicable provision of the Code of Federal Regulations:
28 CFR 50.10
§ 50.10 Policy with regard to the issuance of subpoenas to members of the news media, subpoenas for telephone toll records of members of the news media, and the interrogation, indictment, or arrest of, members of the news media.
Because freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of reporters to investigate and report the news, the prosecutorial power of the government should not be used in such a way that it impairs a reporter's responsibility to cover as broadly as possible controversial public issues. This policy statement is thus intended to provide protection for the news media from forms of compulsory process, whether civil or criminal, which might impair the news gathering function. In balancing the concern that the Department of Justice has for the work of the news media and the Department's obligation to the fair administration of justice, the following guidelines shall be adhered to by all members of the Department in all cases:
(a) In determining whether to request issuance of a subpoena to a member of the news media, or for telephone toll records of any member of the news media, the approach in every case must be to strike the proper balance between the public's interest in the free dissemination of ideas and information and the public's interest in effective law enforcement and the fair administration of justice.
(b) All reasonable attempts should be made to obtain information from alternative sources before considering issuing a subpoena to a member of the news media, and similarly all reasonable alternative investigative steps should be taken before considering issuing a subpoena for telephone toll records of any member of the news media.
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