The Justice Department has subpoenaed indymedia.us for its visitor logs for a certain date. While this raises big flags regarding online privacy, something else happened with this action that is very odd. The recipient of the subpoena was told she could not talk about it unless authorized by the Justice Department – an essential gag order.
Of course news like this would send the right into a full frenzy that Obama is trying to silence the media, even a left-leaning site like indymedia. Here’s Hot Air’s take on it:
Did the White House try to open up a two-front war on the media? Before the Obama administration launched an all-out battle with conservative-leaning Fox News Channel, the Department of Justice demanded the records of all visitor information of left-leaning Indymedia.us in an remarkable subpoena of a media outlet, for one specific day. No one can recall any precedent for such a wide-ranging probe into the records of a media website, but it may provide a challenge to a national-security law if the DoJ presses hard enough:
But there’s a problem with this “blame Obama” mentality. The original source of the article is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and this is what they say about the subpoena:
On January 30th, 2009, Kristina Clair of Philadelphia, PA — one of the system administrators of the server that hosts the indymedia.us site — received in the mail a grand jury subpoena from the Southern District of Indiana federal court. The FBI had sent an email to Ms. Clair a couple of weeks earlier asking where a subpoena directed at the indymedia.us site should be sent. So, we at EFF were ready and waiting to evaluate the subpoena as soon as it arrived. Yet even we were surprised at what we saw. A PDF of the entire subpoena is available here.
And let’s look at when the actual subpoena was signed:
See that? It was signed on January 23rd of 2009 – three days after Obama was sworn in.
Even CBS has jumped on board with this “blame Obama mentality”:
Under long-standing Justice Department guidelines, subpoenas to members of the news media are supposed to receive special treatment. One portion of the guidelines, for instance, says that "no subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media" without "the express authorization of the attorney general" – that would be current attorney general Eric Holder – and subpoenas should be "directed at material information regarding a limited subject matter."
Eric Holder wasn’t confirmed until February 2, 2009. So how could Holder have authorized a subpoena that was entered into the court record 13 days before even being sworn in?
These attempts to pin everything on Obama are always present in the rightwing blogosphere, but the fact that CBS, a major U.S. media outlet, actually started the latest episode is appalling. You would expect the author of the article would have read the actual subpoena, which they linked,
On the other hand this proves that the Obama Administration isn’t the only administration to declare war on media outlets. We now have even more proof of the Bush administration doing just that, and we have CBS and a rightwing blog helping to confirm it by their own error. I’m sure this case is still moving forward and I don’t know all the facts of it. A new President doesn’t come into office and immediately halt every single prosecution going on in the DOJ. If that happened our country would really be in a mess. So this case is actually a left over from the Bush years.
(cross-posted from IntoxiNation)