An Inside Look at How DOJ Goes After Reporters, Not Just Leakers

The Washington Post writes today about the extraordinary treatment of a reporter in a recent leak investigation. But this one isn’t about the AP or an al-Qaeda mole. It’s about North Korea:

When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.

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.

Even more extraordinary, the Justice Department appeared to consider prosecution of not just the leaker in this case, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, but also the reporter, James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News. The charge? Acting as “either as an aider, abettor, and/or co-conspirator of Mr. Kim.” In other words, trying to get access to confidential government information, something that reporters do every single day. The key section of the warrant is below.

In the end, Rosen was never charged with anything, but it sure sounds as if DOJ might have thought about it. Read the entire Post piece for more.


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