This is the first part of a series which will comprise the transcript of my 65 minute interview with James Risen.
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My guest tonight...I'm really honored and excited to have on the show...is James Risen. He's a Pulitzer Prize Winning investigative reporter for the New York Times and winner of the 2006 Goldsmith Prize for investigative reporting. His 2006 book, State of War earned him the wrath of the Obama administration and the justice department and he's been living under the threat of going to jail for refusing to disclose sources ever since then. In addition, his reporting on NSA was, because of collaboration with the Bush White House, kept secret for over a year until he forced the issue by publishing his book. His new book, pay...no, I'm sorry...by publishing the book in 2006, State of War. Now his new book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War just came out...literally days ago, and it is just a blockbuster. And I have to say that it's an inspiration for aspiring journalists and a fascinating read for people who want to get an in depth, big picture understanding of some of the most important developments in the US.
Jim, welcome to the show.
JR: Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Rob: So I want to talk about the book and we're going to -- I've got a lot of questions about it -- but I want to get started by discussing the threat of prison that's been hanging over your head. Can you talk about how it has affected your work, your sources, your doing your job as an investigative journalist?
JR: Yeah, well. I mean I think my...I've been facing this for...I guess it's about 7 years now and at first it kind of bothered me but now I'm kind of used to it, and I decided basically to respond to the government by writing another book and by continuing to investigate and investigate in particular the war on terror, which I think is the most important issue of our time; and in particular how we have allowed our country to be transformed since 9/11 because of our fear of terrorism, how we have basically exaggerated the threat and allowed the whole country...allowed the creation of a new national security state.
Rob: Okay so part of...and you do that brilliantly and fascinatingly in your book, but part of what I do as publisher of OpEdNews is I publish people from all over the world who act as kind of citizen journalists, so part of my goal in my interview with you is to also get a feel from a kind of a meta point of view of what's happening with you as a journalist. So again, how...one thing you did was you basically came back and you disclosed a ton more that when they mess with you they now learned that you strike back harder...that's great, and thank you for...I can't speak for the world but you're doing something that really an invaluable, necessary thing and as I said it's an inspiration.
Rob: So has it any way affected your sources, your work with the New York Times?
JR: Yeah sure, I mean the fact that I've been facing subpoena for so long has, you know, it's been a mixed bag. I think there's a lot of people I'm sure who are afraid to talk to me now and who don't want to have anything to do with me out of fear; but then on the other side there's other people who come to me and said, you know, I'm willing to talk to you because I know I can trust you, I know you'll...you protect sources. And so it's kind of mixed you know...it's helped in some ways and hurt in others. So I just try to, you know, try to keep going. And I think as a reporter if you start pulling on one...on a thread and then you just keep pulling on it, eventually you'll find just amazing stories so that's what I try to do.
Rob: If you pull a thread...tell me more about that because I'm very interested in what makes a journalist...an investigative journalist as successful as you are. What are the secrets? What are the tools that you use pulling on threads?