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The subpoena battle in the Valerie Plame leak investigation pitted the news media against federal prosecutors. So reporters subpoenaed last month by the attorneys for the scientist once suspected in the 2001 anthrax attacks might be surprised by their new ally: the Justice Department. In documents filed April 27 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, federal prosecutors wrote that Steven Hatfill has overstepped court orders allowing him to compel testimony from reporters whom he had already questioned and has instead extended the discovery to even more media outlets. Judge Reggie Walton gave Hatfill permission in March to subpoena reporters again to find out the names of the government sources who had told them about Justice’s investigation of Hatfill. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft had called him a “person of interest” in the attacks that killed five people. Hatfill sued in 2003, alleging that this statement and other leaks to the press by unknown law-enforcement officials violated his right to privacy. During the first round of depositions Hatfill subpoenaed six reporters, who provided accounts of what government officials had told them about Hatfill but weren’t required to name their sources. This time, Hatfill has subpoenaed eight news organizations for documents, including three that he didn’t before — The New York Times, The (Baltimore) Sun, and the Associated Press. Kevin Baine, a partner at Williams & Connolly who represents The Washington Post, Newsweek, and ABC News, has already filed a motion to quash the subpoenas.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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