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.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: doj, eric holder, guidelines, james rosen, journalists, privacy, shield law, spying

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Paul, 12 Jul 2013 @ 5:28pm

    Historically, no matter what they say, it will be a lie. I do not trust them. They are all criminals and they need to arrested, convicted, locked up naked in solitary confinement and the key thrown away.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.