Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department’s secretive and sketchy gathering of two months’ worth of Associated Press editors and journalists’ phone records is unfortunately a far cry from a the only freedom-of-the-press-stifling incident coming out of this administration. In 2010, the DOJ also spied on Fox News’ Washington correspondent James Rosen as a supposed co-conspirator in an espionage case for the oh-so-heinous crime of cultivating a State Department source — a.k.a., doing what D.C. journalists regularly and rightly do.
A new report from the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, however, reveals more details on the case, and it appears that their specific targeting of James Rosen does not quite cover the extent of the DOJ’s lack of scrupulousness:
The Obama Justice Department has seized the phone records of numbers that are associated with White House staffers and, apparently, with Fox News reporters, according to a document filed on October 13, 2011, in the case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a former State Department contractor accused of violating the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking classified information to James Rosen, a Fox News reporter. Ronald C. Machen, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who is prosecuting the case, has seized records associated with two phone numbers at the White House, at least five numbers associated with Fox News, and one that has the same area code and exchange as Rosen’s personal-cell-phone number (the last four numbers are redacted).
In all, Ronald C. Machen, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, has seized records associated with over thirty different phone numbers. In the filing that included the new information, the last four digits of each telephone line targeted by the Obama Administration are redacted. Two of the numbers begin with area code 202 and the exchange 456, which, according to current and former Administration officials, are used exclusively by the White House. (The phone number for the White House switchboard is (202) 456-1414.)
At least five other numbers targeted by the government include the area code 202 and the exchange 824. The phone number for the Fox News Washington bureau, which is publicly available, is (202) 824-0001. Rosen’s work phone number at Fox News begins with the same area code and exchange.
So, it looks like the DOJ had not ‘merely’ been sticking their big, fat nose into Rosen’s personal and professional e-mails/calls/comings and goings, but just higgledy-piggledy been nabbing up records that may-or-may-not have been associated with the ‘case’ — including five separate Fox News phone numbers — all in the attempt to somehow involve investigative reporting in a probe of potentially criminal behavior? Wow, guys. Really crack team you got there. Bang-up job on protecting and respecting the First Amendment, and all that.
The White House Correspondents’ Association, as you might imagine, is getting somewhat concerned about all of the targeting of the press coming out of this administration, because this is quickly turning into a dangerous-looking pattern:
The White House Correspondents’ Association said Tuesday that two recent cases in which the Obama administration went after reporters’ phone and email records show the government may be getting “far too aggressive” in tracking journalists. …
Though no charges were brought against Rosen, the White House Correspondents’ Association said no journalist should even face that threat for doing their jobs.
“Reporters should never be threatened with prosecution for the simple act of doing their jobs,” the WHCA said in a statement Tuesday. “The problem is that in two recent cases, one involving Fox News’ James Rosen and the other focused on the Associated Press, serious questions have been raised about whether our government has gotten far too aggressive in its monitoring of reporters’ movements, phone records, and even personal email.”