The War On Journalists: DOJ Claimed Fox News Reporter Was An 'Aider, Abettor, Co-Conspirator' With Leaker

from the wow dept

Following the DOJ’s brazen collection of info on AP reporter phone calls, we noted that it was not the first time the DOJ had been overly aggressive in going after reporters. Now, the Washington Post has another horrifying story, talking about the DOJ’s investigation into a leak from the State Department to Fox News concerning classified info on North Korea. That investigation resulted in charges against Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a State Department security adviser, but the investigation included heavy surveillance of James Rosen, the Fox News reporter. They obtained his phone records, security-badge data and email exchanges. In order to get all this, they claimed that Rosen wasn’t just a reporter, but “an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the crime itself. For doing basic reporting.

By now it should be abundantly clear that this has little to do with protecting national security, and everything to do with a war on investigative reporting about the federal government. Almost everything seems to be designed to threaten reporters, and to put the fear of the federal government into any whistle blower who might have information to pass on to a reporter. As people have pointed out, what Rosen did in this case is what any national security reporter does all the time. Others have pointed out that this shatters the basic concept that those who report on the news are protected by the First Amendment in doing so.

The Reyes affidavit all but eliminates the traditional distinction in classified leak investigations between sources, who are bound by a non-disclosure agreement, and reporters, who are protected by the First Amendment as long as they do not commit a crime. (There is no allegation that Mr. Rosen bribed, threatened or coerced anyone to gain the disclosure of restricted information.)

And, not surprisingly, this tactic of going to war with reporters appears to be working.

Mark Mazzetti, who covers national security for the New York Times — one of several leading investigative reporters I reached out to today — says he is experiencing a greater reluctance on the part of sources to talk to him.

“There’s no question that this has a chilling effect,” Mazzetti said. “People who have talked in the past are less willing to talk now. Everyone is worried about communication and how to communicate, and [asking if there] is there any method of communication that is not being monitored. It’s got people on both sides — the reporter and source side — pretty concerned.”

The end result, of course, is less ability to keep government abuses — of which there appear to be many — in check.

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Comments on “The War On Journalists: DOJ Claimed Fox News Reporter Was An 'Aider, Abettor, Co-Conspirator' With Leaker”

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Michael Roberts Internet Libel Victim's Advocate (profile) says:

Re: Controlling the press

RW, your one sentence response is concise and very accurate. But I would like to expand on it. I believe that the “press” is already controlled to a large extent by conflicted interests operating in the shadows. I would say that any way to avoid a police state, is to ensure there is a vibrant and healthy fifth estate (alternative media) such as independent blogging, citizen journalists, and people that have a heart for truth as opposed to advertising revenue.

The problem with the traditional fifth estate is that Silicon Valley giants, such as Google, have usurped the balancing influence by deciding what news, weather is mainstream, alternative, or fake gets page 1 Google rankings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Are you telling me the government would otherwise be investigating this person. Very unlikely. Probable cause didn’t exist before the leak and no additional probable cause exists now that the leak occurred.

The only reason they are investigating this specific person and trying to find out who leaked the information and trying to go after the exact reporter responsible is not because they had a prior suspicion that somehow that reporter is responsible for otherwise doing something illegal. Prior suspicion wouldn’t exist absence of the leak. That would be a very very huge coincidence. No, the only reason they are going after this specific reporter, the same exact reporter responsible for the leak, is for vengeance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s not like they suspected this reporter of anything before the leak. No, they only suspected the reporter after the leak and they specifically went looking for the (previously unknown) specific reporter that leaked the information. IOW, their only criteria for suspecting this reporter of anything was because they leaked information, this reporter only became a suspect of anything because of the leak. That’s little different than the IRS choosing who they are going to investigate based on their political affiliation. They are doing it for vengeance and no other reason.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

They were unaware of who the reporter was before the leak and they went searching for the reporter that leaked the information after the leak and then they suddenly, by coincidence, decided that the reporter that leaked the information needs to be investigated. That is strong evidence that this is being done for vengeance. That’s not a tin foil hat suspicion, it’s a common sense conclusion that the facts would lead me and many others to naturally believe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“It’s not like they suspected this reporter of anything before the leak. No, they only suspected the reporter after the leak”

WOW,, amazing, they only suspect someone of a crime AFTER that crime has been committed !!!!! OMFG….. !!!!!!!

Next time, THINK before you talk.. far less people will think you are a moron then.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

He is suggesting that “an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” is a criminal and thus in terms of investigation it is fair game to pull his records if they have a suspicion.

When we are talking US intelligence and anti-crime units it is a mess of lawlessness and internal fighting. It has been so, at least since the patriot act. What the AC is doing is just spitting acid (probably LSD) and appealing to the added safety the lawlessness provides…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

They have investigative discretion. For them to choose who they are going to investigate (partly) based on who leaks embarrassing information against them is similar to the IRS basing their investigations on political affiliation. It violates the principle that the govt should not go after whistle blowers based on the fact that they blew a whistle.

out_of_the_blue says:

So, anyone who still believes that "1984" is fiction?

The recent changes are actually from bribery / embeds to active suppression of anything contrary to gov’t line. I’m leaning toward concluding that even the recent “scandals” are just to make journalists aware of that shift. — Bet your last cent, won’t be any reduction of the spying, but will be of whistleblowing and real reporting.

And of course Google is CENTRAL to Big Brother: automates much of the monitoring.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 So, anyone who still believes that "1984" is fiction?

The vast majority of people use google for their searches – which, if the gov’t has hooks into google then all those searches are in the gov’t’s hands. Its not as far fetched as you seem to think. Facebook is even worse – you don’t even have to sign up for an account at this point and you are in Facebook’s data sets. Case in point – i have an uncle who dies over 30 years ago. I started seeing a few weeks ago that he is available as a friend to me. I asked around all his siblings and none of them created an account for him. Nor did any of his children or my other cousins on that side of the family. Where did this account come from and how did it get linked to mine? The point of this tangent is that you don’t even have to participate in facebook and you still become part of the vast human-network database. And we all know that you are guilty by association in this society.

I don’t think the snark is unwarranted. I think that much like AT&T and Verizon have NSA closets in their network centers, Google almost certainly does as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 So, anyone who still believes that "1984" is fiction?

You can encrypt your data back and forth between your friends. Heck, you can probably even find ways to encrypt your phone conversations between you and whoever you are talking to with a pre-shared key. There are ways to opt-out.

and if everyone did it then the government would have to make the parties aware of their intrusion before being able to decrypt anything which would make it much more difficult for them to do anything without due process and get away with not letting the public know.

Yes, the government can try to retaliate by making encryption technology illegal but the advantage of that is such laws are publicly transparent and the public has an opportunity to put public pressure at resisting such laws. Government wiretapping is not necessarily transparent to those being monitored.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: So, anyone who still believes that "1984" is fiction?


OOTB may not be too far off the mark here.

Google may not be doing the mining for the feds, but if I were the NSA, I’d have taps on all of Google’s fiber and reading every last damned query.

This is NO different than feeding telephonic audio streams to farms of supercomputers and listening for threshold keywords which would then get the call popped onto the stack for a wetware analyst to listen to it.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So, anyone who still believes that

Blue’s comment is totally relavant considering that Google does base relavency on what you’ve searched for and holds all your searches for a period of 9 months in its database…how do that do that? They use your IP address to identify you….For instance, the more you look up porn of a certain type on Google, within 3 months they will give you results based in where you clicked as to make your search easier.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So, anyone who still believes that "1984" is fiction?

It’s insightful period I think. Little boy blue might be, well himself, but that doesn’t mean he’s always wrong. The fact of the matter is that an private company, no matter who they are, aggregating information on individuals becomes a target when the government wants more information for their investigation. Aggregation and centralization is dangerous when you live under a government like the one we have, one were there are magic words that make transparency, disclosure, and due process disappear. Little boy blue would comport as if changing Google is part of the solution but it isn’t. What we really need is to change government.

HiggsLight (profile) says:

Re: So, anyone who still believes that "1984" is fiction?

Sorry Blue – If you think that Google helps the DOJ or anyone in tracking/spying on people you have a child-like understanding of the internet – not that that wasn’t obvious already. (This is also an ironic statement because children understand the internet far better than you.)

Governments have their own technology (scrapers, indexers, keyword processers, etc) for monitoring the internet unrelated to how you experience it through “The Google.” I know this for a fact and you boy do you look stupid for making such a ridiculous statement.

You’re like someone who thinks reading People every day makes them an expert is sociology.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So, anyone who still believes that "1984" is fiction?

“If you think that Google helps the DOJ or anyone in tracking/spying on people you have a child-like understanding of the internet “

this show you have NO understanding of the internet, childlike or not.

If you believe NSA who scoops up EVERYTHING on the internet, including google and facebug then you are dreaming.

NSA simple splices the data feed into ALL the major hubs and servers, and reads EVERYTHING, dumps it all into the farms of supercomputers and do word and pattern searches.

Email, Warcraft, Google, WWW, whatever information that passes over the internet in packet form (EVERYTHING) is simply copied on mass, and searched.

Get over it, it’s been there for years, just about as long as the internet itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So, anyone who still believes that "1984" is fiction?

Might not be 1984 as it is a repeat of Watergate…I guess the Democrats wanted to see what it was like themselves. The tax audits started the same way under Richard Nixon, first tax audit and withhold applications for non-profit “politically minded” groups, then start heavy down attacking the press…regardless if they are criminals or not.

Sunhawk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It should not be discounted that perhaps the information disclosed to, and published by, the reporter for FOX news was pertinent in real-time and could be used by others to the detriment of US national security. This is, of course, something quite distinct from whistleblowing.

Perhaps, perhaps, but I don’t think I like it even if that were granted.

Paul says:

If things were happening correctly, “we the citizens” wouldn’t fear our government, our government would fear “we the citizens”. “In Greed We Trust” is not our/my motto. “Love thy country, hate thy government” is quickly becoming a more common thought for us/me daily.

“We The Citizens” need to re-gain leadership and control of our very corrupt Corporate Controlled government by any and every (legal) means possible. After all, this is supposed to be the “Land of the FREE and the Brave”!!

Anonymous Coward says:

"Traditional News" Only Source for Investigative Reporting?

We’ve heard this trope from the newspapers, that without them there would be no serious investigative reporting. I wonder if there’s at least a little more truth to that than we give them credit for: a large news corporation like the AP or Newscorp may be able to fight back against the government in a case like this more than a lone blogger would be able to.

Anonymous Coward says:

this is another example of a government (and one that was supposed to urge whistle blowers to come forward as they would be better protected than at any other time) doing whatever it can to stifle reports of what it has been up to when it has been up to no good! it is doing whatever it deems necessary to keep things from the public. the DoJ are becoming better and better at lying through their teeth, blaming whatever they can on to the person they have their sights on at the time and trumping up whatever ‘evidence’ needed to ensure the person has no way out! i wonder if someone can explain to me the difference between this sort of situation and how it was during the scary times of ‘reds under the beds’ days? of Khrushchev’s times? of Hitler’s times? it seems to me that what is going on now is to try to frighten everyone into such a state that no one dare open their mouth about anything. that everyone will be spying on and grassing on their neighbours. that everyone is having everything as far as freedom and privacy taken from them, little by little and any resistance is squashed by jailing all that dare say or do different to ‘the party line’!!!

Eponymous Coward says:

The Logical Conclusion of This:

Don’t make the mistake in assuming that journalists will be the only ones targeted by such rogue legal theories. It’s inevitable that common people will also eventually be on the recieving end of this as well. How much of a stretch will it be for myself to be put under legal jeopardy if I’m actively soliciting/searching for classified intel on say foreign news, hacker sites, Tors, et al., and then reposting said info on Reddit, Facebook, Google+, etc., etc. by this. I fear once the first reporter falls under this it will be open season on anyone, everyone interested in working towards a more open government.

ShellMG says:

It’s time for so-called journalists and reporters to choose. They can keep their cozy White House access, their party invitations, their exclusive swag, their secret interviews…IF they play like nice little lemmings and continue to eat the sh** the Obama Administration is feeding them.

What’s not to say if THEY getting a little too inquisitive they may find a nastygram from the IRS in their snail mail?

NOTE: My husband and I were audited last fall…and the paperwork is still flying.

Matthew A. Sawtell (profile) says:

Beware the Mandarians...

Sad to see an American President act like a typical ‘El Presidente for Life’ character seen in late night B-Grade movies. However, Mr. Obama, much like Mr. Nixon before him, is very mistaken if leaning hard will keep the Mandarins quiet. There will be more leaks. There will be more stories. And as much as he and his group of Chicago Amateurs attempt to spin, his legacy in office will carry an unmistakable taint to every that he had done ? including his Noble Prize. In the end, these activities are a poor reflection of all Americans as a whole indeed.

horse with no name says:


By now it should be abundantly clear that this has little to do with protecting national security, and everything to do with a war on investigative reporting about the federal government.

So anyone, using the title “reporter” can do what they like, without any risk, without any legal come back? If as the FBI is suggesting that this “reporter” was part of the operation, then he is no better than the criminals themselves. Your suggesting here is that one can cloak themselves in their profession and ignore the law, and that is just not acceptable.

Reporters who help to “create” the news rather than report it tend to cross the line.

Eponymous Coward says:

Re: Wow

What’s not acceptable is the misapplication of the law as is happening here. So what if a reporter “crosses the line”, for there is no journalistic, legal obligation a reporter is under (especially a law barring reporters from “creating news”). And dummy, realize this isn’t just applicable to reporters only; it means that if I actively engage and solicit classified data I too can be in legal jeopardy! And that is total bullshit for I am not legally obligated either to keep this governments’ secrets secret. It is actions like this that will motivate some people to actively reveal sensitive intel in order to push back against this administration, regardless of what damage may be incurred, and I salute them for their efforts!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wow

And that is total bullshit for I am not legally obligated either to keep this governments’ secrets secret.

Yes, in fact YOU ARE..

also you are NOT legally obligated to acquire said information.

Think of it like illegal drugs, you may not have taken any, but that does not mean having it in your possession is allowed.

You are also not allowed to acquire it, buy it or sell it, own it, keep it, or use it.

Or have it on any property that is in your responsibility.
It does not even matter if you know it is there, if it for example found in your car, and it’s your car, you are responsible and liable.

Same with classified information.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wow

BTW, if you “don’t know” you have a secret, then you don’t have a secret….. by definition..

and of course all the people charged for having drugs in their car, or on their person “don’t know” they had it..

Have you NEVER seen an episode of “Cops” ???

“Are these drugs yours ??? “.. “No, I never seen them before”…. “But we just found them in your pocket”…. “These are not my pants!!…. “…”But your wearing them !”….. “yes I found them a minute ago”…

Queue song… Bad boys bad boys, what ya gonna do !!!!..

Ok no matter you are being arrested for possession….

Anonymous Coward says:

One method of interception is to place equipment at locations where fiber optic communications are switched. For the Internet, much of the switching occurs at relatively few sites. There have been reports of one such intercept site, Room 641A, in the United States.

so they just tap into the fibre feeds and TAKE EVERYTHING.. including Goolag

Anonymous Coward says:

Room 641A is located in the SBC Communications building at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco, three floors of which were occupied by AT&T before SBC purchased AT&T.[1] The room was referred to in internal AT&T documents as the SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room. It is fed by fiber optic lines from beam splitters installed in fiber optic trunks carrying Internet backbone traffic[3] and, as analyzed by J. Scott Marcus, a former CTO for GTE and a former adviser to the FCC, has access to all Internet traffic that passes through the building, and therefore “the capability to enable surveillance and analysis of internet content on a massive scale, including both overseas and purely domestic traffic.”[4] Former director of the NSA?s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, William Binney, has estimated that 10 to 20 such facilities have been installed throughout the nation

Ed (profile) says:

So this “reporter” even sets up a coded communications method? Like covert spies? He encourages the State Department contact to gather more information, including classified info? You people can whine and wail all you want, but this “reporter” clearly crossed the line from investigative journalism into a national security threat. You’re giving license to criminal, and even treasonous, activity under the cloak of “reporting”. I hope the DoJ nails this bastard to the wall.

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