Former executive editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson sat down with Lesley Stahl for “60 Minutes Overtime” to discuss a 2003 conversation with then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice who asked her to stop a piece from being published and prevent further coverage of the CIA’s efforts to thwart Iranian nuclear initiatives by the paper’s then national security reporter James Risen.
“She had a legal yellow notebook on her lap with lots of notes on it, and once I had taken a seat across from her, she barely looked up,” said Abramson. “She basically read in a very stern manner from her notes on this legal pad, which were just point after point about why this story would be damaging to the national security. I don’t think I uttered, Lesley, in this meeting, much more than ‘hello,’ and ‘I will think about what you said.’”
The article never ran, but was reported in Risen’s 2006 book State of War. Risen has for years received subpoenas to testify and may again for the early 2015 trial of Jeffrey Sterling, alleged by the government as Risen’s source of confidential CIA information.
“It seemed, in the calculus of all of the major stories we were dealing with at that point, not worth it to me and I regret that decision now,” added Abramson. “I regret that I did not back a great reporter, Jim Risen, who I’ve worked with and who then worked for me and whose work I knew was solid as a rock.”