DOJ: Now That We've Been Embarrassed For Spying On Journalists, We'll Be A Little More Careful

from the until-congress-says-otherwise dept

Right before the Snowden leaks came out, you may recall there were some other controversies, involving the DOJ spying on reporters, including claiming that reporter James Rosen was an "aider, abettor or co-conspirator" in order to get access to his emails and phone records. In response to this controversy, President Obama... put Attorney General Eric Holder in charge of investigating these efforts, despite the fact that it was under Eric Holder's watch that these things happened.

In response, the DOJ is apparently revamping its guidelines to make it slightly more difficult for them to do what they already did:
The new guidelines, which the official said would take effect almost immediately, would prevent the Federal Bureau of Investigation from portraying a reporter as a co-conspirator in a criminal leak as a way to get around a legal bar on secret search warrants for reporting materials, as an agent did in a recently revealed search warrant affidavit involving a Fox News reporter.

They would also make it harder — though not impossible — for prosecutors to obtain a journalist’s calling records from telephone companies without giving news organizations advance notice...
According to that report at the NY Times, the DOJ also said that it can't do any more unless laws are changed:
“This is as far as the department can go on its own until Congress passes the media shield legislation,” the Justice Department official said
That's simply not true. The DOJ's guidelines are just that: guidelines. They can set pretty clear guidelines for themselves that make it clear that the DOJ will not spy on reporters' communications with sources. But they're choosing not to do so. Either way, all of this seems (yet again) like a reaction to them being called out on questionable behavior. They made no effort to fix these guidelines until what they were doing came out in the news. It's difficult to take the DOJ seriously when they promise to change after they've been caught.
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Filed Under: doj, eric holder, guidelines, james rosen, journalists, privacy, shield law, spying


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  1. icon
    McCrea (profile), 13 Jul 2013 @ 11:40pm

    Re:

    yes, but the nsa is only collecting metadata, but it's the FEDs that have access to the recorded calls, right?

    Separation of power in order to reduce liability or something like that.

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