DOJ’s Assault on the Media Just Took Another Turn for the Worse

Barack Milhous Nixon

The Justice Department’s already troubling assault on the media just got weirder. Days after it was reported that the DOJ seized phone records from the Associated Press in an attempt to discover a leak from the administration, it was discovered that James Rosen, a Fox News correspondent, was the target of an investigation into a separate leak.

But the story has taken another turn for the worse. It appears that the DOJ also seized phone records from two White House staffers and five additional Fox News reporters:

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 in the case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, on October 13, 2011. Kim is 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).
The document uncovered today suggests the government seized “call detail” records from Rosen’s work and cell phones, which would show whom he called, who called him, how long they spoke, and the times of the calls. The document suggests that the government was seeking only the subscriber records for the two White House numbers targeted, information that a government source said would include the name of the official who used the specific line.

In addition to the White House, Kative Pavelich also notes that the DOJ monitored Fox News’ phones lines at the Pentagon and network executive were also surveiled. As if this story couldn’t get more troubling, News broke last night that Rosen’s parents were also targeted in the investigation:

James Rosen’s parents were among those who had their phone records seized by the Dept. of Justice during its investigation into the 2009 North Korea intelligence leak, according to Fox News host Bret Baier.

“The seized toll numbers relate to James’ parents home in Staten Island,” Baier, a colleague of Rosen, reported on Tuesday evening.

Whether or not the Justice Department intended on prosecuting Rosen, and it’s doubtful that they would have been successful, is completely irrelevent. The idea that the Obama Administration would target a reporter, even one at a network with which they disagree, sets a disturbing precedent.

Several Leftist media figures — including Josh Marshall, Keith Olbermann, Adam Serwer, and Matt Yglesias — and The New York Times editorial board have expressed concern over the Obama Administration’s targeting of the media.

“[T]he Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news,” wrote The New York Times editorial board, which is known for its Leftist slant.

“Obama administration officials often talk about the balance between protecting secrets and protecting the constitutional rights of a free press,” the editorial board added. “Accusing a reporter of being a ‘co-conspirator,’ on top of other zealous and secretive investigations, shows a heavy tilt toward secrecy and insufficient concern about a free press.”

One of the great things about our country is that the media has been separated from the state, unlike other countries, and that independence has been respected. It was initially just whistleblowers that the Obama Administration had targeted, which is troubling enough, but the message now being sent is that no one — even reporters doing their jobs — is safe from harassment or investigation.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s administration has expressed contempt for the Constitution and nearly all of the civil liberties protected therein. Congress has to take a stand and hold this President accountable for the actions of his administration.

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