A new article about how the Obama administration tracked the movements and correspondence of a Fox News reporter led to a fresh round of condemnation by journalists on Monday.
The Washington Post published an explosive story about the Justice Department's monitoring of James Rosen, a Fox News reporter based in Washington. Rosen allegedly spoke to Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a State Department contractor, for a story about North Korea's nuclear program. The Justice Department charged Kim with violating the Espionage Act for his contact with Rosen.
Kim's case has already been condemned by critics of the White House's hyper-aggressive approach to leaks, but the details of the DOJ's tracking of Rosen have not been known until now. The Post's Ann E. Marimow laid out the intensity of that monitoring in her article:
The Justice Department 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 emails.
(Read the DOJ's request for searching Rosen's records at the bottom of the post.)
That goes above and beyond what the Justice Department did when it monitored the Associated Press. There, it looked at phone records, not the actual contents of emails.
Perhaps more chilling, the Post reported that, in order to justify its search warrants for Rosen's private correspondence, the Justice Department labeled Rosen a "co-conspirator" with Kim because he made an arrangement with him about how to get him information:
Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.” That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target.
It's not clear how different these arrangements, which the Post wrote involved things like code names, were from the elaborate arrangements that Bob Woodward made with Deep Throat. Journalists reacted with particular alarm to the notion that Rosen was an "abettor" simply because he pushed for a source to give him information:
To address a widely believed myth: except in very rare circumstances, it is *not* a crime for journalists to report classified information
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 20, 2013
There has long been evidence that some government prosecutors do not consider journalists to have heightened levels of protection. In January, for instance, lawyers prosecuting military whistleblower Bradley Manning said that, had he passed information to the New York Times instead of WikiLeaks, he would still be "aiding the enemy." The government has also tried to make the case in the past that WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange could be indicted as a co-conspirator with Manning for receiving his information.
UPDATE: Fox News responded to the Rosen investigation in a statement to TVNewser:
“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter. In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
READ THE FULL DOJ AFFIDAVIT BELOW: