The attorney general has a problem. On the one hand, there's political pressure to clamp down on leaks about national security. On the other hand, going after leakers all too often means going after journalists, too. And Eric Holder, in the waning days of his term in office, still doesn't seem to have figured out an easy solution.
Take the case of James Risen, a New York Times reporter currently under threat of jail time for refusing to testify about sources he used for national-security reporting. Risen has said he's willing to go to prison rather than divulge his sources, and has become a cause célèbre for journalists, liberal civil libertarians, and conservative critics of the administration alike.
Interviewed by Jonathan Capehart during the Washington Ideas Festival on Wednesday, Holder trod carefully around Risen's case.
"We have been in touch with Mr. Risen’s lawyers," he said. "I think there will be a resolution to that that will be satisfactory to everyone. No one’s going to be going to jail while I am attorney general."
Later, asked what his biggest regret as attorney general had been, Holder mentioned a subpoena that named a different journalist, James Rosen of Fox News, as a "co-conspirator" in another leak case and suggested the investigation could have been handled more sensitively.