NBC News set off a firestorm when it reported that Attorney General Eric Holder had signed off on search warrant applications directed against Fox News Washington correspondent James Rosen in 2009. Most publications, including even the far-left Huffington Post called for his head on a platter. Now that the dust has settled somewhat, commentators are asking, “Did Holder lie under oath?”
Following the earlier disclosure that the Justice Department had seized the telephone records of Associated Press reporters and offices during a two-month period, Holder was invited to testify before a House Judiciary hearing on oversight held May 15.
During the course of that hearing, the attorney general was asked what was then considered a relatively softball question by Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia about the possibility of prosecuting reporters in addition to leakers. Holder dismissed it as being pretty much outside of the realm of imagination.
First of all you’ve got a long way to go to try to prosecute the press for publication of material. This has not fared well in American history… In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. This is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.
The Justice Department confirmed Friday the NBC report of the day before that Holder approved the Rosen search warrant application in 2009. The government accused Rosen of being an “aider, abettor, and/or co-conspirator” in its search warrant application, something that, according to his testimony, Holder had not “ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”
Given this, it’s apparent that Holder lied to Congress on the 15th. It may also be that he lied to the judge. The DOJ’s statement in its search warrant application accusing Rosen of being an “aider, abettor, and/or co-conspirator” may very well have been a sham to get a judge to sign the search warrant. If that was the case, he also lied to the judge.
The New Yorker described Friday the extraordinary measures the Justice Department took to keep the Rosen search warrant a secret, and reported that two judges had ordered DOJ to notify Rosen that his private emails were being snooped.
The disclosure order was reversed on appeal in September of 2010 by Royce C. Lamberth, the chief judge in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, and it has remained a secret until The Washington Post disclosed its existence on Sunday.
Given Holder’s approval of that search warrant application, DOJ’s desire to keep it under wraps is understandable. And now that it’s public, it’s apparent Holder lied in his official capacity — certainly to Congress and maybe to three federal judges.
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