Confronting Crime: The Complicated Relationship Between the Media and the FBI Crime is a major beat for reporters, and law enforcement officers are often their best sources. But are journalists and cops after the same thing?
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Confronting Crime: The Complicated Relationship Between the Media and the FBI

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan. We're broadcasting today from the Knight Studio at the Newseum, Washington, D.C.'s newest museum devoted to journalism and to the news business. The relationship between the FBI and the media has, at times, been confrontational. The FBI's job is to catch criminals, while the media has a responsibility to inform the public, and sometimes differing agenda's can put the Feebs and the fourth estate at odds with one another.

Take the D.C. sniper case in 2002, when a reporter released the suspect's license plate number against the wishes of the FBI, which worried it would hamper the investigation. In the end, a bystander recognized the license plate and called the police who arrested the men responsible. Sometimes the relationship poses ethical dilemmas as when the FBI pressed the Washington Post and the New York Times to publish the Unabomber's anti-technology manifesto. After much debate the newspapers did it. As a result, Ted Kaczynski's brother read the words. They were familiar. He turned his brother in.

As it happens, artifacts from those infamous cases, and many more, are now on display here at the Newseum at a new exhibit, "G-Men and Journalists: Top News Stories of the FBI's First Century." It includes 200 artifacts, nearly 300 photographs and dozens of historic newspapers and interactive displays, and it marks the hundredth anniversary of the FBI.

Today we take the occasion to talk with John Miller who's been on both sides of the fence, first as a TV reporter and anchor, best known for his work at ABC News. You might remember a 1998 interview with Osama bin Laden. He's since worked for the police departments in New York City and Los Angeles. He's now assistant director of public affairs for the FBI and he joins us here at the Newseum. Thanks very much for coming in.

Mr. JOHN MILLER (Assistant Director, Public Affairs, U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation): Good to be here, Neal.

CONAN: We'll also talk with NPR FBI correspondent Dina Temple-Raston about covering the FBI, also here at the Newseum, and thank you for joining us.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON: My pleasure.

CONAN: And we want to talk with you as well. Is the relationship between the media and the FBI too close, too confrontational? We'd especially like to hear from those of you with experience on either side of that fence. 800-989-8255 is the phone number. Our email address, talk@npr.org. You can also tell us your story on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation. Later on in the hour, we'll hear from the Unabomber's brother and from one of his victims about their unlikely friendship.

But first the relationship between the media and the FBI. John Miller, let me start with you. I know the tour of the FBI building here in Washington used to be one of the most popular things for people to do. The building has been closed for obvious reasons since 9/11. Is this new exhibit at the Newseum a way to share the FBI's artifacts with the public?

Mr. MILLER: It very much is. The FBI tour meant an awful lot to the bureau. It was the second most popular tour in Washington, behind the White House, when it was open. It had a tradition for years, and there are many people in the FBI, and I've met them myself, and they've told me the stories, who either started as tour guides and became FBI agents and executives, or who went on the tour as kids and joined the FBI because of that.

Because of the post-9/11 security concerns about letting the general public into the building on a first-come-first-serve-basis, by the hundreds, we weren't able to continue that. And we felt that this opportunity to do the exhibit at the Newseum here, tracking, kind of, a hundred years of the FBI and its biggest stories, had a nexus to journalism, a nexus to the FBI. But also just being two blocks from FBI headquarters served as kind of a temporary replacement for that tour.

CONAN: Those of us who took the old tour will remember that the FBI was not exactly shy about extolling its virtues on that tour. I wonder, now that it's, the exhibit is here at the Newseum, do you make materials available that might illustrate some of the FBI's less stellar moments. The Robert Hanssen case or Waco or COINTELPRO, things like that?

Mr. MILLER: We do. I think, it's my personal view, but also the view of Dr. John Fox, our historian, and the senior management at the FBI, that if you're going to tell your history, you've got to tell the whole history, and that's the good and the bad. We made a film for internal consumption, for our own employees, that kind of tracks the 100-year history with a lot of great old pictures and films.

And we talked about the allegations of abuses of power, some of the difficult times, some of the lessons learned from difficult incidents, and there was a discussion. Do we really need to include all that stuff, and go through the whole bloodletting again in our film? Can't we just tell the good parts? It's for our own people. And there's a saying, those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. And we factored that in and we put the material in, too. We didn't dwell on it but we made sure we covered it.

CONAN: And were the materials selected by the FBI, or were they selected by curators here at the Newseum?

Mr. MILLER: Well, the Newseum, this is their house, and it's their exhibit. They have editorial control, if you will. They consider these artifacts. We call it evidence. At the end of this, we're going to want our stuff back, but that said, it was their story to tell and we certainly helped it to the extent that when they had questions we answered them, but we also realized, you know, we were at the intersection of a museum and journalists, a museum run by journalists, and that we would have to treat this like a story.

CONAN: One other question. You mentioned there's a historian at the FBI. It's not a position a lot of people would immediately think of at the FBI. Does that person go around thinking about, oh the evidence in this case, we need to preserve it for historical purposes?

Mr. MILLER: Well, first of all, we preserve evidence almost indefinitely, almost about everything. So we don't need any lessons in being packrats, it's in our nature. You don't really throw away evidence, because you don't know how a case is going to come back. But we did go through a process of identifying the kinds of things we have and when you look at us in terms of an agency with evidence, with artifacts, with things that are through the judicial process now, there is a moment in time when they go from being evidence, to actually a piece of history, a very tangible piece.

So when you say, you know, what is booked into evidence? The Unabomber's cabin. You can actually come here to the Newseum and you can see the cabin that the Unabomber built with his own hands, lived in, where he constructed his bombs and hid them under the bed. Where he eluded authorities for a couple of decades. You can also see some of those other things like the hollow nickels or the cufflinks that spies hid coded messages in back in World War II. So, it is evidence, but it's also history.

CONAN: By the way, if you'd like to see what the inside of Ted Kaczynski's rural Montana cabin looked like when it was raided by the FBI, you can see that in the photo gallery at our website at npr.org. It's extraordinary. Of course, later in the program we will be speaking with Ted Kaczynski's brother, Dave, but that's another subject. Let me bring in our other guest in now, and that's of course, Dina Temple-Raston, NPR's FBI correspondent. Dina, nice to have you on the program.

TEMPLE-RASTON: My pleasure to be here.

CONAN: And what's it like covering this agency, which is, of course, immensely powerful and a huge important part of the government?

TEMPLE-RASTON: I think what I found covering the agency more than anything is it seems to have its fingers in just about every big story that we have. For example, the Bear Stearns story last week, the arrests were done by the FBI. A lot of the investigation was done by the FBI. And I find that, almost every single nexus of any breaking story that we have, I just have to do a search on AP and put in the three letters, FBI, and it's amazing how many stories come up.

CONAN: You're being modest, you broke that story.

TEMPLE-RASTON: I did break that story.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Yeah. And was the FBI.

Mr. MILLER: She was hoping you'd get to that part.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TEMPLE-RASTON: And I'm glad you did.

CONAN: Was the FBI cooperative in that story?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, in some ways it was. I have been hammering a little bit at the FBI to give us the tick-tock on that story.

CONAN: A tick-tock?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Tick-tock, a journalistic term that basically means how it unfolded, how the investigation unfolded. Not necessarily knowing any sort of double-secret-probation type of things that they did to get it, but just to know how it unfolded so we can better understand the story.

CONAN: And they weren't willing to give you the tick-tock?

TEMPLE RASTON: I think John Miller is going to do that now, isn't he?

CONAN: John?

Mr. MILLER: Yeah. I was actually hoping to do that on live radio.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MILLER: That's a difficult area for us because, you know, I come from a career before this as a story teller, but when you're in the FBI, your storytelling ability is regulated by a lot of things, by the rules of the FBI, by the Department of Justice guidelines, by the law. And what Dina is talking about here is the same kind of thing I used to ask for as a reporter which is take me behind the story, tell me everything that happened that led up to it.

The difficulty with that is after a case is charged, it transitions from the FBI to the office of the U.S. attorney, the prosecutor. So after the arrest the statements, by and large, and this is the way the rule book has it, are supposed to be made by the prosecutor, because anything that is said is something that could reasonably prejudice the trial in some way, and they like to manage that. So that really takes us out of the conversation even though you know we probably have a great story to tell, it makes it very difficult for us to tell it.

CONAN: But frankly, there have been other cases where the FBI has provided that material to reporters in the past.

Mr. MILLER: There have been other cases where people within the FBI, people referred to as the mysterious law enforcement source, whether they're in the FBI or some associated agency or some prosecutor's office, you never quite know who provide that information. It will be a rare time when you see FBI officials speaking on the record about something of that nature.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get a caller in on the conversation. If you'd like to join us, 800-989-8255. Email is talk@npr.org. And James is with us. James on the line from Chino Valley, in Arizona.

JAMES (Caller): Yes.

CONAN: Yes, go ahead, James.

JAMES: All right, it sounds like a rather bad connection, but I just wanted to make a point as an ex-Army infantry back from Vietnam, that the CIA, the FBI, et cetera, are overseen by judicial branches of our federal government. There are covert actions that must take place. I know that a lot of civilians do not seem to understand. Does your interviewer - interviewee, excuse me - address this at all?

CONAN: John, you just mentioned you were overseen by the Justice Department and have obligations to them as well. I imagine every once in awhile the White House may call.

Mr. MILLER: We don't lack for oversight. We have congressional committees who have oversight over us. We have the Department of Justice who has oversight over us. We have the Office of Inspector General, which is an independent body in the Department of Justice that has oversight over us. And as the caller indicated, if you go to get a wiretap, you go before a federal judge and you have to make your case that you've exhausted all other investigative means to do that before they'll grant that.

If you go for a secret wiretap, you have to go before the FISA court, and even in secret, you have to make the cases that this is a threat to national security and how you know it and what hoops to jump through. So he's right, there is this image of the FBI as this, omnipotent, all-powerful organization that kind of goes and does as it pleases. Not so. There's an awful lot of oversight. Many boxes to check.

CONAN: James, thanks very much for the call. We appreciate it.

JAMES: You're welcome, Neal. Thank you.

CONAN: And perhaps that image is created by a lot of the television shows on which the FBI agents are well, certainly seem to have a wide range of responsibilities they can undertake themselves, and well we find out lots of stuff which may or may not be true. Anyway, if you have questions about the FBI and particularly its relationship with the media, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. More with John Miller and Dina Temple-Raston in just a moment. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan. We're broadcasting today from the Knight Studio inside the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Any reporter on the crime beat can tell you how important their relationship is with law enforcement officers. There are times though when journalists and the FBI are after very different things. Today we're talking about the relationship between journalists and the FBI. Is it too cozy? Too confrontational? We'd especially like to hear from those of you with experience on either side of that divide. 800-989-8255. Email is talk@npr.org. We'll also take questions from the audience here in the studio at the Newseum.

And Dina Temple-Raston, let me ask you, you wrote a book about the Lackawanna Six, an important Homeland Security case post-9/11. What was the relationship like working with the FBI in those circumstances?

TEMPLE-RASTON: In the beginning, it was a little bit difficult. They were suspicious of what my motives were. I think that was a story that was really misunderstood. You either had people who thought that the Lackawanna Six were terrorists in the waiting, or you had people who thought that the Lackawanna Six were these poor innocents that the FBI had picked on. And the truth was somewhere in between, I think.

That they get lumped together as six people as one amorphous being and in fact I think the six were rather different from each other. I think once the FBI in Buffalo knew that I was actually trying to get to the bottom of this story, they became much more helpful and I think that the book ended up actually illuminating quite an interesting story. I mean, we did have a little conflict about it though as I recall, John.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: John Miller also with us, the assistant director of public affairs for the FBI.

TEMPLE-RASTON: There's an incident in the book in which I imply that the six were arrested on almost exactly the anniversary of 9/11 for what might have been political reasons.

CONAN: Just coincidence.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, I think that's what you guys said, is that it happened to be a coincidence, and I found that to stretch credibility a little bit. So, I guess we started out with a little bit of conflict, but we've gotten over that, right?

Mr. MILLER: We've gotten well past that, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MILLER: I actually quite enjoyed the book and recommend that everybody goes and buys it.

CONAN: Let's get a question from the audience here at the museum.

Mr. WILL COOPER (Audience Member): Hi my name is Will Cooper (ph) and I'm from Cleveland, Ohio. I was wondering, how can a cozy relationship between journalists and the FBI compromise the duty journalists have to the American people?

CONAN: I guess that's to you, Dina.

Mr. MILLER: I'd be happy to take that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TEMPLE-RASTON: Thanks, John. You know, it's funny because these things don't end up being that close a call. We were talking earlier about the license plate that was on the back of the snipers car and how a reporter got that and ended up publicizing it when the FBI didn't want to. The reporter didn't really make that decision on their own. I mean, when I am given something, or if I happen to hear something that may be is classified, I talk to my editor about it and say look you know does this add to the story, do we want to put this in, is it worthwhile doing this? I was embedded with the major crimes task force in Iraq about two months ago. Major crimes task force is basically the Iraqi FBI.

The FBI helped set it up which a lot of people don't know about. And there were things I saw and something I heard that basically in the heat of the moment were told to me that really would have put peoples' lives in danger. It wouldn't have really added to the story, and my editor and I talked about it and I said look like is what will happen if we go ahead and report this. Is it worthwhile? And it was a pretty easy call not to do it.

Remember, too, that I have a long standing relationship with the FBI. I mean I just don't do one story with them. I do multiple stories and because of that, I think that it creates a relationship between the two of us that just somebody who does the occasional FBI story doesn't have. They have a stake in keeping me busy and happy, and you know I have a stake in being absolutely dead downright objective, and that's what I tend to be.

CONAN: Let's get a caller on the line. And if I can get the button pushed, that's Rich and Rich is with us from Bend in Oregon.

RICH (Caller): Howdy. Thanks for taking my call.

CONAN: Go ahead, please.

RICHARD: I just wondered how do you reconcile as a reporter whether you're sensationalizing or memorializing something in a museum that is a crime? And what does that do that attention? And also about the victims, how do they recognize and memorialize? I fear something where you're sensationalizing and drawing attention to a crime that again has its - the other side of it which could be, how does a victim recognize and how do they feel about this?

CONAN: Again, to be fair to John Miller and the FBI, this material was selected by the Newseum, which mounted this exhibition. They did it, but you had a hand in it. Do you think it sensationalizes and glorifies crime and how does it deal with victims?

Mr. MILLER: I don't think so. I think when you look at, and you know, this is a question you're going to be able to ask to one of the relatives of Ted Kaczynski later. But I think from our standpoint, how do you sensationalize espionage, the victim of espionage is the United States. It's a national security matter. Yet it's fascinating. How do you sensationalize organized crime? The answer is easy. It is a sensational story by its nature because it's art imitating life, imitating art.

But on the other hand, we are all the victims of organized crime. Everybody who had a building built or ordered food in a restaurant or had something to do that stemmed from carpentry or painting or concrete. The prices were affected by organized crime. So, I mean, I think that the public has a right to look at the history, the artifacts, the threats and drivers that affect them.

Now, the other end of this question is, how does it boil down to the individual victim? That something of this becomes a spectacle and that's a question that I have found. Victims tend to answer very differently. Over time, they say, I thought this case was forgotten and it shouldn't have been. Others will say, you know, I wanted this to go away but I don't think there is a single answer to that.

CONAN: Dina, you've seen the exhibit.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Yes. I was just going to say we took a tour of the exhibit yesterday and on many of the interactive sites around the exhibit there are actually not just FBI agent stories but victim's stories there, too. So they're included in the whole mix.

CONAN: Another question from here in the museum.

Mr. TONY ROSLOM (Audience Member): My name is Tony Roslom (ph). I'm in the Institute of Political Journalism, part of the Fund for American Studies, and my question for you, Mr. Miller, is how does your office particularly respond to leaks to the press?

Mr. MILLER: We don't. You know we have leaks. That is a fact of life in Washington. I think if you plugged up the leaks in Washington, the place would go dry and die. But that's not a new factor. When it comes to the FBI and leaks beyond my office, you will see these leak investigations. At any one time there's, you know, a handful in progress. And I find with some exceptions they almost never get to the actual leaker. And they almost always are spurred by national security disclosures, disclosures of classified information. And it is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game that we play where the mouse almost never gets caught.

CONAN: Dina, you've gotten the occasional leak.

TEMPLE-RASTON: I'm very pro-leak.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Tell us, for example, how did you find out about the Bear Stearns story?

TEMPLE-RASTON: I should start by saying that I don't just talk to FBI agents, but I also talk to U.S. attorneys' offices and people in the Justice Department and U.S. marshals' office.

Mr. MILLER: And make sure you say that I didn't tell you.

TEMPLE-RASTON: And that John didn't tell me, but I just wanted to clarify while John was sitting here that an FBI agent didn't tell me. Basically ,I was talking to a law enforcement official about something else all together and this is so often how a story gets broken. And then he said, well, you've heard about that Bear Stearns thing, right? To which I said - and of course, I had not heard about it - sure, what's going on with that?

(Soundbite of laughter)

TEMPLE-RASTON: And then proceeded to find out that the indictments were about to get voted on by the grand jury, and then once that started I went to their two lawyers of these two guys and told the lawyers what I knew, and then they told me what they knew, and before you knew it, we were off to the races. I mean, there are very few financial news stories that you go to NPR first for. And Reuters had to quote us, which was really quite fun. But - and then it's gotten legs of its own because I now know who the key players are and how to get to them. We've been able to sort of consistently work on this story and break new news on it.

CONAN: Sometimes, though, you're not reporting on FBI investigations necessarily, or on crimes, for that matter, but about the FBI itself about allegations of incompetence or racism or various other things. And in those respects, do you find a lot of cooperation for Mr. Miller's office?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, to be honest, I don't, on those kinds of stories, necessarily call John first. I may call...

CONAN: He's heartbroken, I can tell.

TEMPLE-RASTON: Yeah. And not surprised, I'm sure. Sometimes I'll go out of Washington and sometimes you can get really, really good information from field offices, largely because they don't have agendas. Sometimes they're not in the middle of, you know, the political stuff that John has to deal with and sometimes they can be much more forthcoming. That's what I've found. What I do do to be fair to the FBI is whenever I have any of these tough stories I do eventually get round to John and give them an opportunity to actually, you know, give a comment about it.

There was a story I did about a management issue at the FBI called five and out, which is, in a short version, basically, if you've been out of headquarters for five years, they want you to rotate back through here. And if you don't then there are problems with that. Well, essentially, I went to other people who were having problems with that particular management issue before I went to John. But very graciously, he - the FBI did make available one key agent who really made the story. And he could have quashed the story a great deal if he hadn't let me talk to the agent. And he did arrange it.

CONAN: And those are the most difficult kinds of stories, I would suspect, John.

Mr. MILLER: Actually, we ask very little from the press on these things. And we expect very little. And in some cases we get very little. What we look for is if it's a good story, great. If it's an OK story, that's most of the time. If it's a bad story, all we ask is that they get it right. And there is so much energy behind issues in this town. Everything is politicized. Everything is spun. Everything comes at you prepackaged. And sometimes, I mean, people will accuse me of spinning the other way. All I ever ask is, can we unwrap all of the palaver here and get down to the facts? And if we can get the facts right, I consider that a victory, even on a negative story. Just tell it right.

And one of the reasons in Dina's case, we didn't hide from that story, and you know, she wanted to talk to an agent who was affected by this, who was going to tell the other side of the story, not the management side, but his view of it. And I said, you know, there's no reason not to have a spirited debate here. Let's not keep him - because we can order him as an employee not to talk - let's not keep him from telling his side. Let's just make sure we get to tell ours.

TEMPLE-RASTON: And the agent actually, he talked to me, he says I have to go and talk to headquarters and get permission. I said, that's never going to happen. And he called headquarters and then he called me back and he says, you'll never believe it. They'll actually let me talk. So he was just as surprised as I was.

Mr. MILLER: I mean, we're not afraid of the facts. We actually are very attached to facts.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: We're talking with John Miller, assistant director of public affairs for the FBI, and a former ABC news reporter and anchor. Conducted the famous 1998 interview with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Also Dina Temple-Raston, NPR's FBI correspondent. And if you'd like to join us, the number is 800-989-8255. Email is talk@npr.org. This is Talk of the Nation from NPR News. And let's go now to the phones. And Bill is on the line with us from Phoenix, Arizona.

BILL (Caller): How are you doing? I just want to say kudos to the FBI for making this museum. I can't wait to see it. My father would have loved it. My father was a reporter for the Arizona Republic and Newsweek, and he worked quite a bit with the Unabomber case, and also the Oklahoma City bombing and then some local stuff that happened, and just would have loved this program.

CONAN: Well, thanks very much. That's very kind of you, Bill. And how long is the exhibit going to be running here at the Newseum?

BILL: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.

CONAN: I was asking John Miller how long the exhibit was going to be running here.

Mr. MILLER: I think we've got an initial offering of - is it a year?

CONAN: A year and a half.

Mr. MILLER: A year and a half.

CONAN: All right, Bill.

Mr. MILLER: I think I might have just signed us up for another six months inadvertently there.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Let's get a question from here in the audience of the Newseum. Thanks, Bill.

Ms. ASHLEY MCGON (Audience Member): Hi, thanks so much for having me here. Ashley McGon (ph) from Mission Viejo, California. My question is to John Miller, based on a comment you had mentioned before. Has there ever been a specific incident or story that comes to mind, where, because of your journalistic background, your journalistic fervor for telling the story, or releasing information has been significantly stifled by the federal regulations that are on you? And if so, did you petition to release more information?

Mr. MILLER: You know, it has been a frustration from time to time, where you say, especially when you're confronted - it's not even my journalistic fervor, especially when you're confronted with a set of facts that can be portrayed in a negative way and you say, we have a very good story to tell here in our own defense, and you know, I will fight and argue, and say we need to tell this.

And what you'll bump into is those rules I've mentioned before, the DOJ guidelines, the FBI rules, sometimes the law, grand jury secrecy, national security, where you say we just can't tell our side of this story. Even though, you know, at the end we'd come out looking much better, sometimes we just take our lumps, because we're prohibited from that. And the FBI official in me gets the idea that we have to stay by the rules. The reporter in me gets driven crazy by this, because, you know, that's the part where there's a quest for truth. But that's an intersection we have to live with.

CONAN: Does the FBI ever ask reporters for help?

Mr. MILLER: Yes. We have asked reporters for insights, particularly people who have been overseas and reported on things that may track with other information we're seeing, where we've said can we talk to that individual? Can they tell us? Do they know more than they've put in their article? Maybe it was cut for space but it was stuff that they would have not minded publishing, that kind of thing. But most often. it's not that exotic. Most often it's, we've got this bank robber, we've got this missing child in a kidnapping case, we've got this fugitive, and we're looking for publicity. And we find that extraordinarily effective.

CONAN: Dina, have you ever been asked for help?

TEMPLE-RASTON: I have, yes. Mostly related to the Lackawanna book. Because I actually followed in the footsteps of the Lackawanna Six through Yemen, through Pakistan, into jihadi hotels, sneaking across the border into Afghanistan. And there's some things I saw there that some of the FBI agents who were actually working on the case were very curious about.

And clearly by that time I was so absorbed and entrenched in the case I saw things in the same way that they might have seen. I mean, I think there's a lot of similarities between what the FBI does and what we do. I mean, we're both curious. We both are trying to gather information. We're theoretically both trying to get to the absolute truth. So our ends are just a little different.

CONAN: And we just have a little time left. We've lately seen a spate of subpoenas for reporters to appear testifying in federal cases. There's no federal shield law for reporters. Is that off the FBI's bat, or is that the Department of Justice?

Mr. MILLER: It's the Department of Justice. But in a leak investigation, the FBI may do the investigation that tries to determine who passed on the information. Remember, in a serious national security leak, it's not the reporter who's breaking the law. It's the government employee. The reporter took an oath to go dig up the information, get it and put it out there.

The government employee often took an oath to, in order to come into possession of these secrets, to guard them closely, and to not make unauthorized disclosures. So that's the person the FBI is usually looking for, which is who's pumping this stuff out that could be endangering national security. When it gets to the subpoenas, the grand jury process, the court process, that's on the prosecutor's side rather than the investigator's.

CONAN: John Miller, thanks very much for being with us today. We really appreciate your time. And Dina Temple-Raston, you can get back to work now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TEMPLE-RASTON: Thank you.

CONAN: Dina Temple-Raston is NPR's FBI correspondent. John Miller, assistant director for public affairs for the FBI. Coming up, the remarkable friendship between the brother of the Unabomber and one of his victims. David Kaczynski will join us next. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

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