Oh, good: Holder to specify, narrow guidelines for seizing journalists’ records

posted at 7:01 pm on July 13, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

A couple of months back, President Obama gave U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder until July 12 deadline to review the internal rules governing his department’s efforts to seek information from the press and make recommendations, the better to protect the integrity and privacy of journalists, after the onslaught of Scandalmania in which the administration seized the records of reporters of both the Associated Press and Fox News. Amazingly, Holder seems to have found the time to actually comply with a deadline demanding he cough up some kind of report.  How kind.

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. promised tough new restrictions Friday on the seizure of journalists’ phone records and emails, backing off from the Obama administration’s aggressive use of secret court orders to obtain news media records as part of investigations into leaks of government secrets.

The changes, which lawyers for news organizations hailed as significant new protections for the media’s ability to freely report on government activities, are being proposed after two months of controversy over the administration’s policies regarding surveillance and the free flow of information. …

Holder presented the proposed policy changes to Obama on Friday. Under the new rules, prosecutors in nearly all cases would be required to give news organizations advance notice before seeking records of contacts between reporters and their sources. That would give a news organization time to challenge the demand for records in court.

For several decades, the Justice Department has relied upon internal memos to limit such searches, and advance notification to the media before seeking their records is supposed to be the standard procedure — but Holder’s investigators saw fit to bypass those restrictions because they ostensibly believed that seeking cooperation with the AP or Fox might “pose a substantial threat” to the investigation. Supposedly, these revised more-like-guidelines-than-actual-rules are going to add more safeguards to the deployment of such a tactic:

“The Department of Justice is firmly committed to ensuring our nation’s security, and protecting the American people, while at the same time safeguarding the freedom of the press,” Mr. Holder said. “These revised guidelines will help ensure the proper balance is struck when pursuing investigations into unauthorized disclosures.” …

Congress has generally forbidden search warrants for journalists’ work materials, but the statute makes an exception if the reporter is suspected of committing a crime. An F.B.I. agent wrote that Mr. Rosen qualified for that exception because he had violated the Espionage Act by seeking government secrets to report. …

The revision to the guidelines would bar such a tactic by saying that the “suspect exception” may only be invoked “when the member of the news media is the focus of the criminal investigation for conduct going beyond ordinary news-gathering activities.”

Search warrants invoking the exception, the revision adds, will not be allowed “if the sole purpose is the investigation of a person other than a member of the news media.”

Also, the new guidelines will require the attorney general to sign off on invoking the exception. Previously, a deputy assistant attorney general could do so.

(Except that, as you’ll remember, Holder did actually approve of the search warrant for Fox News reporter James Rosens’ private e-mails. Just sayin.’)

I think that what we’re meant to gather from all of this ado is that the administration is going to be cracking down on their unprecedented crackdown on leaks, and they’re actually going to stop doing pretty much whatever the heck they want? Why do I find myself still skeptical?


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Koolaid?

Electrongod on July 13, 2013 at 7:06 PM

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. promised tough new restrictions Friday on the seizure of journalists’ phone records and emails,

Unfortunately, Holder’s fingers were crossed at the time.

GarandFan on July 13, 2013 at 7:06 PM

Remember that Mayor of San Diego..
How he is going to fix things…

Yeah..

Nothing different here with Holder..

Electrongod on July 13, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Oh, good: Holder to specify, narrow guidelines for seizing journalists’ records

I’m sure the GOP will do everything they can by holding their feet to the fire and make sure they don’t do away with the First Amendment too quickly.

I don’t think I’m going to vote anymore. I’m about done. These people should be out of office and in jail, several of them with Rs behind their name. No matter what these criminals do, one thing after another after another, they manage to skate through each news and election cycle without any repercussions.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 13, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Are we Erdogan’s Turkey or Morsi’s Egypt yet?

Haul that pathetic Attorney General before Congress and read the Bill of Rights to him.

onlineanalyst on July 13, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Holder and his ‘people’.

When are we going to something about them, and refuse any more to tolerate their threats to riot?

Liam on July 13, 2013 at 7:16 PM

I don’t think I’m going to vote anymore. I’m about done. These people should be out of office and in jail, several of them with Rs behind their name. No matter what these criminals do, one thing after another after another, they manage to skate through each news and election cycle without any repercussions.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 13, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Stop it, you’re killing me with the truth. Not funny anymore is it?

arnold ziffel on July 13, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Will he also issue secret exceptions that swallow the rule guideline?

myiq2xu on July 13, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Stop it, you’re killing me with the truth. Not funny anymore is it?

arnold ziffel on July 13, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Liberals and their politics stopped being funny 50 years ago.

Now it’s time to do something serious about them.

Liam on July 13, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Holder presented the proposed policy changes to Obama on Friday, which consisted of “Any and all Press Records, including personally identifiable information may be seized roughly whenever the Hell I feel like, or when it’s in the Administration’s best interest. …Or whenever The President feels like someone is being mean to him.”

Generalissimo Francisco Franco and Hugo Chavez were both unavailable for comment.

Jane?

a5minmajor on July 13, 2013 at 7:39 PM

Now it’s time to do something serious about them.

Liam on July 13, 2013 at 7:28 PM

I was 16 when that jackass Ted Kennedy hit and split, killing Mary Jo. Had to watch him help eff up the country for many years. Instead of being demonized by any rational person he gets hj’s from the likes of Hatch and McCain.

arnold ziffel on July 13, 2013 at 7:39 PM

I was 16 when that jackass Ted Kennedy hit and split, killing Mary Jo. Had to watch him help eff up the country for many years. Instead of being demonized by any rational person he gets hj’s from the likes of Hatch and McCain.

arnold ziffel on July 13, 2013 at 7:39 PM

I’m a little younger than you, but I came to hate TK in the 70s. He was always slime, a typical liberal. In trying to match his brother John, who could truly inspire people, Teddy went nuts.

Far as I’m concerned, those assassins chose poorly.

Liam on July 13, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. promised tough new restrictions Friday on the seizure of journalists’ phone records and emails,

Well..that settles that. Case closed. He wouldn’t lie.

Derp.

Mimzey on July 13, 2013 at 7:48 PM

internal rules

…they’ll ignore everything…until they get caught again.

KOOLAID2 on July 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM

…they’ll ignore everything…until they get caught again.

KOOLAID2 on July 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Exactly. I’d guess all their efforts have been focused on how to avoid detection. Not all that different from your average criminal, terrorist, drug smuggler, or illegal alien.

Mimzey on July 13, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Full movie: Agenda: Grinding Down America

“A film that finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together. If you’ve wondered why America has been falling apart from within, you will love AGENDA.”

(Via GP) Filmmaker and former Idaho state rep Curtis Bowers describes what he discovered after infiltrating the communist party in the 90s and how it’s connected to what’s happening in America today.

“I think the evil that is capable of happening in the next four years is not a pretty picture,” … “It’s very sad to think that our country voted — after what he had already done ahead of time — to have another four years of that, but it shows how far we’ve really gone.”

- Curtis Bowers

Resist We Much on July 13, 2013 at 8:00 PM

The liar has completed his report to the other liar.

And the nation is once again whole.

Pffft.

fogw on July 13, 2013 at 8:41 PM

Holder breaks a law then celebrates a law against breaking a law he already knew he was breaking.

GD SOB!

Sherman1864 on July 13, 2013 at 9:32 PM

“I will make it legal” – Emperor Palpatine Obama…

Funny how suddenly there’s practically no political commentary on TV anymore… Isn’t it?

No Lil Bush…
No timely movies about current events from Robert Redford or Oliver Stone or even Seth McFarland…

All media darlings ready to stand up and defend America from internal corruption and oppression… Or was it just forwarding the cause of the DNC?

Skywise on July 13, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Most chilling story of the day. And everyone is commenting on the Zimmerman verdict.

applebutter on July 14, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Holder breaks a law then celebrates a law against breaking a law he already knew he was breaking.

Sherman1864 on July 13, 2013 at 9:32 PM

I was trying to figure out how to say that. But then I saw that you had already said it perfectly.

Axion on July 14, 2013 at 9:39 AM