What's Behind Eric Holder's Attack On Journalism?

Attorney General Eric Holder's investigation into Fox News reporter James Rosen is unacceptable.

After news came out that Holder's DOJ seized two months of telephone records of AP reporters it sent a shock wave through the Beltway media and mostly left-wing bloggers. The fact that it's happening under a Democratic president is even worse, because the left has always stood for freedom of the press. Even though President Obama says he wasn't involved with this investigation and is now offering up a new push to pass federal shield laws, it's still a chilling example of judicial overreach with respects to said freedom of the press. I'd be just as furious over this if Dick Cheney had favorite henchman David Addington pull the trigger.

Now we get the news today that Fox News reporter James Rosen has been tracked by the DOJ since 2010.

Yahoo News:

The Justice Department spied extensively on Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2010, collecting his telephone records, tracking his movements in and out of the State Department and seizing two days of Rosen’s personal emails, the Washington Post reported on Monday. In a chilling move sure to rile defenders of civil liberties, an FBI agent also accused Rosen of breaking anti-espionage laws with behavior that—as described in the agent's own affidavit—falls well inside the bounds of traditional news reporting. (Disclosure: This reporter counts Rosen among his friends.)

The revelations surfaced with President Barack Obama’s administration already under fire for seizing two months of telephone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press. Obama last week said he makes “no apologies” for investigations into national security-related leaks. The AP's CEO, Gray Pruitt, said Sunday that the seizure was "unconstitutional."

And Rosen's story does read like a spy novel:

The details of the government's strategy against Rosen sound like something out of a spy novel.Investigators looking into disclosures of sensitive information about North Korea got Rosen’s telephone records and a warrant for his personal emails but also used his State Department security badge to track his movements in and out of that building, the Post reported, citing court documents.

The case began when Rosen reported on June 11, 2009, that U.S. intelligence believed North Korea might respond to tighter United Nations sanctions with new nuclear tests. Rosen reported that the information came from CIA sources inside the hermetic Stalinist state.

Investigators zeroed in on State Department arms expert Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who was among a small group of intelligence officials to receive a top-secret report on the issue the same day that Rosen's piece ran online. But FBI agent Reginald Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator,” the Post said...read on

Whistle blowers and leakers are important to our democratic process --except, of course when those leakers are perpetrating a fraud against their media contact. I understand too that all administrations would want to contain national security leaks, but not at the expense of the institution of journalism. Many readers of the news have been outraged over the performance of the mainstream media for decades now, but they still understand the value of it just the same. Prosecuting a Judy Miller is one thing, but where does this all stop? And are we to believe that Holder really believes prosecuting reporters is a waste of time?

Digby:

Apparently, they just used the threat of prosecution to persuade a court to issue a warrant. Which, considering Holder's testimony, means they misled the court -- or he misled the committee. But hey, it appears that anything goes with these cases so maybe nobody cares.

I'm going to guess that the explanation for all this will be that these investigations are at the individual prosecutor's discretion and they're only following departmental policies, doing their jobs etc, etc. And maybe these prosecutors really are personally offended by national security leaks, in this case from the State Department regarding North Korea. But even if this goes all the way to Holder, how likely is it that the DOJ has taken it upon itself to worry about protecting a North Korean source, which is the issue at stake in the Rosen case? Who's ordering these investigations?

Who's ordering these investigation? I'd say the CIA has somebody's ear. They've become another defacto branch of the military that is running the show in the war on terror. Harry Truman was very wary of their behavior when he wrote this in 1963: Limit CIA Role To Intelligence

About John Amato

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.