Justice Department tracked Fox News reporter's e-mail, movements
May 20th, 2013
05:37 PM ET
2 years ago

Justice Department tracked Fox News reporter's e-mail, movements

(CNN) – Justice Department officials investigating a leak of secret government information tracked the personal e-mails, phone calls and physical movements of a reporter for the Fox News Channel, according to a report Monday in the Washington Post.

Further, an FBI agent assigned to the case wrote the reporter, James Rosen, had likely broken the law by soliciting classified information from a government source, a standard journalistic practice that has rarely been regarded as criminal by law enforcement.

The case follows last week's revelation the Justice Department had seized two months of phone records from reporters and editors at the Associated Press, part of a probe into a separate national security leak. The Obama administration has aggressively investigated and prosecuted suspected leakers who they say put the safety and security of Americans at risk.

In the investigation into leaks to the AP, employees of the news service were never singled out as potential criminals. But in an affidavit for a search warrant filed by the FBI, Rosen is described as potentially being an "aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator" to the crime of disclosing secret information, as reported by the Washington Post.

The case centered on the leak of intelligence about North Korea in 2009, in which analysts predicted the possibility of a nuclear test if the U.S. enacted further sanctions on the regime. Fox News reported on that analysis on June 11, 2009.

According to the Washington Post's report, after obtaining a search warrant, investigators tracked Rosen's movements at the State Department using the security badge he used to enter and exit the building. By also tracking the comings-and-goings of their leading government suspect in the case, the FBI was able to postulate the two met face-to-face.

The adviser, Stephen Jim-Woo Kim, was eventually indicted by a grand jury for violation of the Espionage Act, and is set to stand trial next year. He's pleaded not guilty.

Charges were never brought against Rosen or Fox News. In addition to his physical movements at the State Department, two days of e-mails in his Google account were seized, as well as phone records, the Washington Post reported.

Michael Clemente, the executive vice president of news at Fox, wrote his organization was "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," Clemente continued.

Reporters at Monday's White House press briefing peppered press secretary Jay Carney with questions about the reported activities of the Justice Department, though Carney declined to answer in detail, saying he could not issue comment on an investigation that's still ongoing.

But he reiterated the need for a balance between the constitutionally protected right to a free press and the need to aggressively prosecute government leakers who could put Americans in harm's way.

"The president believes it's important that we find the proper balance between the absolute need to protect our secrets, and to prevent leaks that can jeopardize the lives of Americans and can jeopardize our national security interest, on one hand, and the need to defend the first amendment and defend the ability of reporters to pursue investigative journalism," Carney said.


Filed under: Fox News • Justice Department
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. U.S. Citizen

    The attack upon the people's watchmen has begun.

    May 20, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. reg

    This should be front and center CNN! Seriously, your confidentiality could be next... this on top of AP intrusion is pretty historic, getting into realm of cold war soviet news oppression.

    May 20, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  3. hamptonhistory

    This is now the test for all Real Journalists. The War on Whistleblowers forces you to choose:
    Are you a journalist or an Administration waterboy?

    May 20, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. PaulCat

    Great Job. But you can't really call them reporters. This also sounds like something a republican group would do. Still, great job if this is true.

    May 20, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  5. Me

    There goes another right! I hope you Dems are happy. A reporter trying to do a job and he is singled out! Well say good by to yet another freedom we used to have......

    May 20, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Soooo, Rosen used his badge to come and go at the State Dept, then uses State Dept phones to make and receive calls, one of which is someone criminally leaking him classified national security information, which happened to be someone who was also on a State Dept phone, and the MSM acts surprised and butthurt that DOJ looked at those records? The affidavit on which the warrant is based is 44 pages long and the MSM seems to be violently shoehorning their preferred narrative into the wrong shoe because they are ALL desperately afraid that the leaked-info gravy train might slow down a little, which would force them to do some actual research-based journalism instead of mindlessly serving as stenographers and gossip wh-res. Waaah.

    May 20, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "The Obama administration has aggressively investigated and prosecuted suspected leakers who they say put the safety and security of Americans at risk."

    And the GOP/Teatrolls have aggressively hounded and berated Obama and his administration, yelling and screaming that the leaks need to be plugged and prosecuted and accusing the leaks of all being a plot originating in the WH that was solely for political gain. He's dong exactly what they wanted based on their rhetoric before, but suddenly they have a problem with it. Why? Because it makes the MSM angry and the GOP/Teatrolls see an opportunity to align their interests and influence the narrative.

    May 20, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    BTW, Faux Noise clearly had a pre-scripted narrative going on today. You could've set your clock by the number of times they blurted out the word "chilling." It was clearly the buzzword of the day because the legal arguments regarding 1st Amendment rights frequently talk about "chilling effect." They wanted to plug that word into the collective hivemind consciousness of their tinfoil hatted viewers...like mainlining a freebased ideological talking point. Would've made for a great drinking game.

    May 20, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. Americanmexphil

    I wonder what happens next when NBC and CNN stop carrying water for this administration. But who really believes that they'll ever run out of water.

    May 20, 2013 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  10. Grumpy2012

    How about tracking the New York Times?

    It seems to me that most of the leaks from this administration find their way to the Times pages instead of Fox.

    May 20, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. mike

    So why arent the AP journalists getting called "co-conspirators" too?

    May 20, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  12. Ricardo

    What!? No outrage as with the AP story? OK – I'll start. Good for the DOJ! All Fox news reporters should be spied upon, because they're evil for reporting the truth about the Obama administration. Down with Fox news! Obama forever!

    May 20, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  13. stan

    The Federal government should have more control of the Press. National Security is a prime issue. Too often the press is laissez faire about such issues. The Press needs the Federal Government looking over its shoulder with legal authority to keep it responsible. Its good to see that the Justice department is keeping the 4th Estate under foot.

    May 20, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. Borderless

    This is criminal. This administration has jack-booted thugs at the DOJ intimidating the press. This administration has the IRS intimidating political enemies of the president. This administration has lied to the American people. But the greatest crime of this administration is making "hope" the cornerstone of their election campaign, and then crushing the hope out of the electorate. Shame on you Obama. No one can convince me you are either a liberal or a true Democrat. You, sir, are nothing but a tyrant.

    May 20, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. Larry L

    If military personnel purposefully leak classified information they go to prison. Have we really developed a system so shielded by the 1st Amendment we allow reporters to actively seek classifed information for public release? Aren't hackers doing the same thing? Releasing classified information can cost lives or give America's enemies a tremendous advantage on the battlefield. I believe the person releasing the data should go to prison – along with the reporter who makes the information public.

    May 20, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  16. PJ

    Too bad. Guess he took lessons from Judith Miller, who also now works for Faux.
    You can be a great journalist or a sleazy one. Guess where they fit in.

    May 20, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  17. just sayin

    the obama administrations lawless intimidation of its political opponents and now reporters not carrying its water continues unabated. they need to get this in front of a judge asap and thrown out immediately. before obama took office, this country used to have freedom of the press. i guess that old fashioned notion is now dead. welcome to obama's idea of a fundamentally transformed america. hugo chavez is beaming in his grave while our founding fathers are spinning.

    wake up america, wake up!!!

    May 20, 2013 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. Dan5404

    As a former news anchor/reporter, I never felt news organizations should be able to obtain and broadcast secret information that endangers lives or the security of our country. That's called espionage, and is a serious overreach of the first amendment.

    May 20, 2013 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  19. John the Historian

    Fox News or Faux News needs to be watched. As O'Reilly said in a Freudian slip they have marching orders. The conservative media of Fox is so biased they just need to be shut down. When they say one nice thing about President Obama is the day I might have my doubts. Let the USA do to Fox what was done in Canada or England. Just glad mormon cult follower Willard didn't become president despite the best efforts of Fox News.

    May 20, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  20. king

    its about time someone put fox news under scrutiny, they will commit espionage if they had a chance. these folks are scandalous, on one hand they are shouting fake wrong doing by the president, and the other hand they are doing thing to destroy our country's security. its like look at him let us do our dirty work while your not watching, i am sick and tired of their unpatriotic acts.

    May 20, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  21. Data Driven

    Guess what? All legal under current law. Conservatives: bolster your credibility by joining with liberals in the common cause of overturning the Patriot Act, brick by brick. Demand it of Congress, and vote out those, R or D, who refuse to listen or who vote the other way. A more effective use of your time than griping about Obama all day.

    BUT. Also keep in mind that Rosen's source was indicted by a grand jury for espionage, according to this piece.

    May 20, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. Melissa A520

    Obama has the campaigning part down pretty good but he needs help with the lying.

    May 20, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  23. Anthony in California

    "broken the law by soliciting classified information from a government source"
    Yup... and if i did the same, I bet the FBI would be tracking me as well.

    Since when is a Fox reporter any different?

    These Right Wingers sure have fallen out of love with our country, its structure, and the rules we have in place.

    May 20, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. Lillian Smith

    Where is the outrage!? How can the press let the Administration get away with this? They need to be hounded every day until we get answers. Does the Mainstream Media not care?

    May 20, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  25. hender1123

    The tip off. Obama said on a talk show that Fox News picked on him. Is it possible that Obama does not accept descending opinions. And does this mean that the DOJ serves at his pleasure? Just a question.

    May 20, 2013 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
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