The seizure of two months worth of telephone records from Associated Press reporters without notice is nothing new for the Obama administration. It’s been running roughshod over the press since the year Barack Obama assumed office.
A case in point is that of Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen and his dealings with former State Department security advisor Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, uncovered by The Washington Post.
Trouble for Rosen began when he wrote that U.S. intelligence officials felt that North Korea’s response to U.N. sanctions would be yet more nuclear tests. The Justice Department surmised Rosen received that information from Kim.
In order to confirm this assumption, it seized Rosen’s phone records without notice or hearing. It also tracked the timing of the reporter’s State Department visits through his security badge records as well as the timing of his calls with Kim. They eventually secured a search warrant for Rosen’s personal emails, alleging in an affidavit that the reporter was a criminal co-conspirator.
“Search warrants like these have a severe chilling effect on the free flow of important information to the public,” said First Amendment lawyer Charles Tobin, according to the Post. “That’s a very dangerous road to go down.”
Fox News executive vice president of news, Michael Clemente, defended Rosen in the statement issued Monday afternoon.
“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter,” Clemente wrote. “In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
The Justice Department has been prosecuting a case against Kim on this matter since 2010. Kim’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said of the AP scandal, “The latest events show an expansion of this law enforcement technique. Individual reporters or small time periods have turned into 20 [telephone] lines and months of records with no obvious attempt to be targeted or narrow.”
In an affidavit included in the Kim case court documents, FBI agent Reginald Reyes wrote that Rosen had broken the law “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”
This is a bare assertion by the agent without referencing any authority. First Amendment freedom if the press guarantees would suggest otherwise.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration hasn’t just engaged in this and similar tactics against the press more than any other administration — it has done so more than all other administrations combined.
You can read more at The Washington Post.
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