Obama’s War on Fox News Reporters
In a stunning sequences of events that unfolded yesterday, it was revealed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) efforts to intimidate the media went beyond targeting reporters and editors at the Associated Press. Early in the day, the Washington Post reported that the DOJ not only seized the phone records of Fox News reporter James Rosen, but used his security badge to access records tracking his movements at the State Department, traced the timing of his calls with a Department security advisor suspected of giving him classified information, and obtained a search warrant to access his personal emails. Later in the afternoon another bombshell was dropped: two more Fox staffers, reporter William La Jeunesse and producer Mike Levine, were also targeted by the DOJ.
We begin with Rosen and his involvement with State Department advisor Steven Kim. Kim is a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for telling Rosen that the intelligence community believed North Korea’s response to additional UN sanctions would be another test of its nuclear capabilities. Rosen published a story to that effect on June 11, 2009, noting that the CIA had received the information form sources inside North Korea.
That story was posted the same day a top-secret report was made available to Kim, arms expert with security clearance, and 95 other members of the intelligence community. Using the surveillance techniques described above, the FBI built a case that the information Rosen received came directly from those documents. Yet Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to top-secret information, steal or sell documents or secrets, or collaborate with the enemy. He gave exclusive information to a reporter, a reality that occurs every day. Furthermore, according to the New York Times, four months prior to disseminating the information for which he was indicted, Kim was asked by a State Department press officer to speak to Rosen about North Korea, “and the two began to talk and exchange e-mails,” the paper reported.
Despite this reality, Kim is facing 15 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act.
The Washington Post explains that in building the case against Kim, the DOJ resorted to the aforementioned tactics to build their case. Thus, despite having substantial amounts of evidence gleaned from Kim’s computer and phone records, Justice insisted they needed access to two days’ worth of Rosen’s personal emails, and all of his email exchanges with Kim. Those records necessitated a subpoena.
In an affidavit obtained by the Post, FBI agent Reginald Reyes revealed the DOJ’s rationale for seeking it. “From the beginning of their relationship, the Reporter asked, solicited and encouraged Mr. Kim to disclose sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information about the Foreign Country” he wrote. “The Reporter did so by employing flattery and playing to Mr. Kim’s vanity and ego.”
More importantly, Reyes further declared there was evidence that Rosen had broken the law “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.” A federal judge signed off on the search warrant.
The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald explains the implications of targeting Rosen. “Under US law, it is not illegal to publish classified information,” he explains. “That fact, along with the First Amendment’s guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the US government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the US government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ–that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for ‘soliciting’ the disclosure of classified information–is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself.”
Fox News’ Brit Hume echoed that assessment. “The Obama-Holder Justice Department is now prepared to treat the ordinary newsgathering actives of reporters to seek information from government officials as a possible crime,” he warned.