May 20 2013

AP-Gate Just Got Worse

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Regardless of the left’s opinion of Fox News, the Obama administration has gone way over the constitutional line and this is adds to the serious threat to freedom of the press. The idea that the government. on its unconstrained wild hunt for whistle blowers, can issue secret subpoenas for telephone records just got worse this morning. The case is being made against Fox News reporter James Rosen for his reporting on the possibility that North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests back in 2009. The Department of Justice is prosecuting State Department adviser and arms expert Stephen Jin-Woo Kim for “leaking” the information to James Rosen of Fox News. To makes the case against Rosen this is what the DOJ did:

They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails. [..]

Court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist – and raise the question of how often journalists have been investigated as closely as Rosen was in 2010. The case also raises new concerns among critics of government secrecy about the possible stifling effect of these investigations on a critical element of press freedom: the exchange of information between reporters and their sources.

First, Kim did not obtain these documents illegally, he had access to them, He did not steal or sell the documents, or pass them to an enemy agent of the US. He gave, what is for all intents and purposes, innocuous information to a news reporter. For that Kim is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Now the DOJ is seeking to prosecute Rosen for revealing the information.

Glenn Greenwald reiterated that it is not against US law to to publish classified information and is far worse than the secret subpoena of the phone records of the Associated Press:

The focus of the Post’s report yesterday is that the DOJ’s surveillance of Rosen, the reporter, extended far beyond even what they did to AP reporters. The FBI tracked Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, traced the timing of his calls, and – most amazingly – obtained a search warrant to read two days worth of his emails, as well as all of his emails with Kim. In this case, said the Post, “investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.” It added that “court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist”.

But what makes this revelation particularly disturbing is that the DOJ, in order to get this search warrant, insisted that not only Kim, but also Rosen – the journalist – committed serious crimes. The DOJ specifically argued that by encouraging his source to disclose classified information – something investigative journalists do every day – Rosen himself broke the law.

In an affidavit (pdf) from the FBI by Agent Reginald B. Reyes in the application for the search warrant, Reyes alleged that because Rosen and Kim used aliases to protect their communications and sought ways to maintain confidentiality, all completely legal for journalists to do, Rosen was acting “much like an intelligence officer would run an [sic] clandestine intelligence source, the Reporter instructed Mr. Kim on a covert communications plan… to facilitate communication with Mr. Kim and perhaps other sources of information.”

In her comparison of this case with the Associated Press, and cases against James Risen of The New York Times and Bradley Manning, Marcy Wheeler notes that Agent Reyes used the strategy of painting Rosen as criminal to circumvent the “Privacy Protection Act protections for media work product” in order to obtain the warrant for Rosen’s e-mails and other records:

In other words, during a period from May 2010 through January 2011, Eric Holder’s DOJ was developing this theory under which journalists were criminals, though it’s just now that we’re all noticing this May 2010 affidavit that lays the groundwork for that theory.

Maybe that development was predictable, given that during precisely that time period, the lawyer who fucked up the Ted Stevens prosecution, William Welch, was in charge of prosecuting leaks (though it’s not clear he had a role in Kim’s prosecution before he left in 2011).

But it’s worth noting the strategy – and the purpose it serves – because it is almost certainly still in effect. FBI Special Agent Reginald Reyes accused Rosen of being a criminal so he could get around the Privacy Protection Act protections for media work product (See pages 4 and following), which specifically exempts “fruits of a crime” or “property … used [] as a means of committing a criminal offense.” Then he further used it to argue against giving notice to Fox or Rosen.

   Because of the Reporter’s own potential criminal liability in this matter, we believe that requesting the voluntary production of the materials from Reporter would be futile and would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation and of the evidence we seek to obtain by the warrant. (29)

While the AP’s phone records weren’t taken via a warrant, it would be unsurprising if the government is still using this formula – journalists = criminals and therefore cannot have notice – to collect evidence. Indeed, that may be one reason why we haven’t seen the subpoena to the AP.

It is very clear that this is an unprecedented threat to freedom of the press and the Obama administration has escalated this war since Obama took office in 2009.

In an interview last week with Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh, senior fellow at The Nation Institute Chis Hedges, called the monitoring of the AP phone records “one more assault in a long series of assault against freedom of information and freedom of the press.”

“Talk to any investigative journalist who must investigate the government, and they will tell you that there is a deep freeze. People are terrified of speaking, because they’re terrified of going to jail.”

~Chris Hedges~

Here is Mr. Hedges piece from Truthdig documenting The Death of Truth

Other related articles from Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian:

Justice Department’s pursuit of AP’s phone records is both extreme and dangerous

The major sea change in media discussions of Obama and civil liberties


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  1. TMC
  2. Big AL

    everything else that’s happened this century?  All of our rights have been trampled on, we’re all spied on, we can all go to jail for bullshit.  Maybe this is chilling but what about the fact that the MSM has been coopted and controlled for decades.  What about who owns the news, isn’t it down to about 5 companies mostly with the same “investors”.  It’s all part of the .001 percent control over the population.  What about the fact that the AP is a virtual mouthpiece for the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Dept, the WH, and all major corporations?  

    What Obama and his DOJ are doing is just the next steps.  There is continuity is government and we’re seeing it clearly now in virtually all aspects.  

  3. Big AL

    after these scandals break, we’re hearing that Obama’s favorable rating is going up and the GOPs down.  From the MSM.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.  We’re being manipulated 24/7.  

  4. TMC

    Jonathan Turley said this about the criminalization of Rosen:

    Of course, Richard Nixon was denounced for using the Espionage Act of 1917 to target Daniel Ellsberg. Obama has brought twice the number of such prosecutions of all prior presidents under the Act. Holder was there to justify every attack on the media.

    Like the AP, Rosen simply reported on leaked information and was treated as a potential criminal by the Obama Administration. A government adviser was accused of leaking information after a 2009 story was published online which said North Korea planned to respond to looming U.N. sanctions with another nuclear test. The Obama Administration obtained email records from Rosen and identified him as a possible co-conspirator in a court affidavit. [..]

    While some Democrats have voiced concern about these stories, the response from liberal and Democrats remains remarkable muted even after years of stories of the Obama Administration cracking down on journalists and whistleblowers. It is the same trade off that civil libertarians have been in other civil liberties controversies. Democrats have repeatedly remained silent in the face of such attacks by Obama in a type of cult of personality. We saw it with torture, warrantless surveillance, the kill list policy and other scandals. Now Obama is demanding that the faithful turn their back on the free press as their latest article of loyalty.

    I will say it again. There will come a day when some else sits in the Oval Office and will demand the same sweeping authoritarian powers wielded by Obama. At that time, Democrats and liberals will not be able to step over the mountain of hypocrisy to utter a feeble, belated objection.

    There was cheering for Obama in a post at the sewer by its clueless leader with all the usual suspects cheering Obama’s approval rating, never mind that his DOJ is Bush’s DOJ on steroids. Heaven help these idiots if there is another Republican administration. If a Democrat will do this, imagine what a Republican will do.

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