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Journalist Badmouths Two Administrations' Treatment of Whistleblowers

James Risen James Risen Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The New York Times' James Risen, who recently was spared threatened prosecution by the Justice Department for refusing to reveal his source for some classified information on operations inside Iran, had some tough words on Wednesday for both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

Risen, speaking to hundreds from the podium at the National Press Club to receive the Ridenhour Prize for courage, said, “We in the press have to speak out against the Obama administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers.”  People often ask Risen whether the Obama team “is really that bad” given that “they are liberals,” he said.

“I feel like they must not have been paying attention,” Risen said. “My friends have said the difference between the Bush and Obama administrations on the war on terror is that the Bush people believed in what they were doing.” The Obama people, by contrast, whatever their motives, Risen said, “feel bad about it.”

Charles S. Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books, and organizational media strategies.

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