Holder OK'd search warrant for Fox News reporter's private emails, official says - NBCAttorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.
The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists.
"I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable," Obama said. "Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs."
[The affidavit] also said that Google was specifically instructed not to notify “the subscriber” -- Rosen -- that his emails were being seized.
In new documents disclosed Thursday, the Justice Department sought and obtained approval to keep the search warrant, which was approved by a federal magistrate, under seal. It was unsealed in November 2011, but never made a part of the docket of Kim’s case and went unnoticed until this week.
"The Justice Department's decision to treat routine newsgathering efforts as evidence of criminality is extremely troubling and corrodes time-honored understandings between the public and the government about the role of the free press," said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
In his speech Thursday, Obama reiterated his determination to pursue leak investigations. "We must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information," he said.
But, he said, "Our focus must be on those who break the law," not journalists."
the district judge, royce lamberth, fyi, apologized yesterday for keeping the search warrant under seal 18 months after his superior ordered it published, until the washington post pried it out into the open just this week
Judge apologizes for lack of transparency in leak probe - The Washington Post
holder testified last friday in house judiciary that he had recused himself from the sweep of the ap's telephones
but he can't say when he recused himself, and he is forced to concede when confronted by chairman bob goolatte that he never put his recusal in writing, despite "best practices"
"as i think about it, that actually might be a better policy to have," he awkwardly acknowledged
Eric Holder gets grilled on the Hill - Josh Gerstein and Jennifer Epstein - POLITICO
the ignorant ag is also unable to say exactly how many other cases of spying on the media are out there
Holder Isn't Sure How Often Reporters' Records Are Seized : The Two-Way : NPR
too many to keep track of, eric?
the outrage is ear splitting
a 52 member media coalition sent holder a 4 page letter objecting to his trashing of the first amendment, the body of which missive lays out point by point the dept's violations of its own manual for collecting phone records:
Media coalition letter of protest to Attorney General Eric Holder - The Washington PostThe nation’s news media were stunned to learn yesterday of the Departmentof Justice’s broad subpoena of telephone records belonging to The Associated Press. In the thirty years since the Department issued guidelines governing its subpoena practice as it relates to phone records from journalists, none of us can remember an instance where such an overreaching dragnet for newsgathering materials was deployed by the Department, particularly without notice to the affected reporters or an opportunity to seek judicial review. The scope of this action calls into question the very integrity of Department of Justice policies toward the press and its ability to balance, on its own, its police powers against the First Amendment rights of the news media and the public’s interest in reporting on all manner of government conduct, including matters touching on national security which lie at the heart of this case.
And finally, the Department should announce whether it has served any other pending news media-related subpoenas that have not yet been disclosed.
ap president pruitt is peeved:
Gov't obtains wide AP phone records in probe"There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know," Pruitt said.
and a few days later:
Pruitt: DOJ subpoenas unconstitutional - POLITICO.com"Their rules require them to come to us first," Pruitt said on CBS's "Face the Nation." But instead of trying to work with the AP, the Justice Department claimed an exception that informing the news organization would have posed a substantial threat to their investigation. The Justice Department sought phone records for 21 AP phone lines that were used by approximately 100 journalists over the course of two months, he said.
"We can't understand why," Pruitt said, since the records came from an outside business and couldn't have been tampered with.
Pruitt said that the message being sent is that if officials talk to the press they are going to be sought out and monitored by the government.
"It will hurt journalism," Pruitt said. "We are already seeing some impact."
ranking member (judiciary) john conyers: “i am deeply troubled by the notion that our government would secretly pursue such a broad array of media phone records over such a long period of time”
zoe lofgren from san jose, 20 year member of pelosi's bay area block: "it seems to me clear that the actions of the department have, in fact, impaired the first amendment, reporters who might have previously believed that a confidential source would speak to them will no longer have that level of confidence because those confidential sources are now going to be chilled in their relationship with the press”
the reliable lib from the south bay continued: “it seems to me the damage done to a free press is substantial and will continue until corrective action is taken, i think this is a very serious matter that concerns all of us, no matter your party affiliation”
chair of senate judiciary patrick leaky leahy: "the burden is always on the government when they go after private information, especially information regarding the press or its confidential sources, on the face of it, i am concerned that the government may not have met that burden, i am very troubled by these allegations and want to hear the government's explanation"
chuck todd: “it’s chilling and they owe us an explanation, this is intimidation and that’s what it feels and looks like, and unless they have a different explanation there is no other conclusion to draw than this is a way to intimidate whistleblowers”
carl bernstein: “it is outrageous, totally inexcusable, this administration has been terrible on this subject from the beginning, the object of it is to intimidate people who talk to reporters, this was an accident waiting to become a nuclear event and now it’s happened, there’s no excuse for it whatsoever, there’s no reason for this investigation, especially on this scale”
robert gibbs: "right now, we’ve sort of been struck by the fact that nobody’s explained why you needed such a broad subpoena, why so many people’s records were subpoenaed, i know it’s difficult in the middle of an investigation but i think, quite frankly, it’s something that’s sort of largely owed to the american people"
Gibbs: Obama Admin Must Explain AP Investigation To The American People | RealClearPolitics
dana milbank: "as flagrant an assault on civil liberties as anything done by george w. bush’s administration, to silence critics in a way richard nixon could only have dreamed of, to treat a reporter as a criminal for doing his job deprives americans of the first amendment freedom on which all other constitutional rights are based, the administration's actions shatter the president's credibility and discourage allies who would otherwise defend the administration, who knows what else this crowd is capable of doing, we're learning just how abusive a justice dept can be"
Dana Milbank: In AP, Rosen investigations, government makes criminals of reporters - The Washington Post
nyt editorial board: "the obama administration has moved beyond protecting govt secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news, certainly not grounds for a conspiracy charge, treating routine news-gathering efforts as evidence of ciminality is extremely troubling and corrodes time-honored understandings between the public and the govt about the role of a free pass, the rosen case follows other signs the administration has gone overboard, accusing a reporter of being a co-conspirator on top of other zealous and secretive investigations shows a heavy tilt toward secrecy and insufficient concern about a free press"