Via NRO, here’s one of the few questions we’ll get today on the Sunday talk shows about any of the scandals erupting in Washington DC, and Fox gets its money’s worth from Brit Hume. Hume laughed at the promise from Barack Obama last week to have Attorney General Eric Holder investigate the abuse of power at Justice, especially after the DoJ admitted that Holder signed off on the snooping performed on Fox reporter James Rosen:
On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume called attorney general Eric Holder’s potential investigation into Holder’s own actions a “howling conflict of interest.”
The affidavit against Fox News reporter James Rosen signed by Eric Holder, which explicitly treats Rosen “as a criminal,” “does not square with what Holder told Congress.”
“It’s going to be argued by a lot of people that he [Holder] was lying. At a minimum it’s another example of his being untrustworthy, and I would say also bumbling.”
When Juan Williams tried to defend Eric Holder and blame Republicans, Hume let him have it:
’Williams tried to argue that Eric Holder was not responsible for the investigation that Rosen was a “criminal co-conspirator,” despite signing off on the affidavit. Williams
“You’re saying he [Holder] is not ultimately responsible as the head man of the Justice Department?” asked Hume.
Williams responded that Holder was simply trusting the work of his underlings and that he “is the exact right person” to conduct an investigation to see how prosecutors came to their conclusions about Rosen.
“Wasn’t he supposed to see all that before he signed off on the affidavit?” asked Hume incredulously.
“You can’t see everything!” retorted Williams.
Does anyone think that the scandal will remain limited to the AP and Rosen? The New York Times thinks that something similar happened to one of its reporters, although the DoJ fell short of filing court documents identifying him as a suspect in espionage:
In a separate case last year, F.B.I. agents asked the White House, the Defense Department and intelligence agencies for phone and e-mail logs showing exchanges with a New York Times reporter writing about computer attacks on Iran. Agents grilled officials about their contacts with him, two people familiar with the investigation said.
And agents tracing the leak of a highly classified C.I.A. report on North Korea to a Fox News reporter pulled electronic archives showing which officials had gained access to the report and had contact with the reporter on the day of the leak.
The emerging details of these and other cases show just how wide a net the Obama administration has cast in its investigations into disclosures of government secrets, querying hundreds of officials across the federal government and even some of their foreign counterparts.
This isn’t quite the same thing, however, as the Times acknowledges. Although the search revolved around communications with one of their reporters — David Sanger — the records they searched belonged to government agencies, where they were looking for leakers, and not the Times or Sanger. Connor Simpson at The Atlantic wonders why they bothered at all, considering the nature of the Stuxnet story:
The intense investigation into Sanger is a little confusing. There were discussions when the story came out about how it seemed the White House may have leaked the story. Or, at the very least, they liked it. It showed the President taking action against Iran during election season. Sanger told Gawker’s John Cook the White didn’t protest the story being released. The White House didn’t actually leak the story, Sanger said, but they didn’t fight him about it either. The investigation into the Stuxnet leak was announced the same day as the AP investigation.
The Times complains that the aggressive investigations are drying up their sources:
Some officials are now declining to take calls from certain reporters, concerned that any contact may lead to investigation. Some complain of being taken from their offices to endure uncomfortable questioning. And the government officials typically must pay for lawyers themselves, unlike reporters for large news organizations whose companies provide legal representation.
Intimidating potential whistleblowers may have been the point of the Sanger investigation. The point of the Rosen and AP probes was to intimidate reporters and news organizations. We’ll see if Holder and the DoJ succeed at the latter.