Rachel Armstrong (Kate Beckinsale) is an ambitious young reporter working at the Capitol Sun-Times, one of Washington, D.C.'s biggest newspapers. When the paper published Rachel's incendiary story revealing the identity of covert CIA agent Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga), charismatic special prosecutor Patton Dubois (Matt Dillon) demands that she reveal her source for the story. With the support of her husband, Ray (David Schwimmer); her editor, Bonnie (Angela Bassett); and the paper's in-house attorney, Avril (Noah Wyle), Rachel defies Patton's request and all hell breaks loose. When Rachel likewise refuses to reveal her source even to U.S. District Court Judge Hall (Floyd Adams), she is cited with contempt of court and thrown in the D.C. Detention Center until she decides to cooperate. As Rachel's attorney, Albert Burnside (Alan Alda), argues her case all the way to the Supreme Court, the public begins to question why the embattled reporter would sacrifice both her family and her career to maintain her journalistic integrity.