Leak probe notification in question
May 29th, 2013
11:56 AM ET
1 year ago

Leak probe notification in question

Updated Wednesday 5/29 at 1:59 p.m. ET

Washington (CNN) – Questions over whether or not the government notified the parent company of Fox News about an investigation into one of its reporters continued to swirl Wednesday as the Justice Department's review of leak probes was set to begin.

The agency is battling accusations of overreach in its attempt to quash leaks of sensitive national security details to the press. In two separate cases, phone records of reporters were seized in a bid to ferret out officials who were providing classified information to the media.

In one case, Fox News reporter James Rosen's private e-mails and phone records were tracked, along with his movements through the State Department, in a search to locate who leaked secret intelligence information about North Korea.

A law enforcement official insisted Tuesday the government notified Fox's parent company News Corp. that it was issuing a subpoena for two days of phone records in 2009. Justice Department policy requires those types of notifications to be delivered via certified mail, fax, and e-mail.

The official said on August 27, 2010, two separate notifications were sent to Lawrence Jacobs, then the general counsel for News Corp. An e-mail also was sent to Rosen on the same day notifying him of the subpoena, the official said.

The official request, according to this official, was for toll records which would show what numbers were dialed from five phone lines associated with Rosen, and also the phone numbers of the calls received. The records would not reveal any content from conversations.

But Jacobs, speaking to CNN Tuesday, said he doesn't remember receiving any notification from the Justice Department about a subpoena.

"I have no recollection of receiving anything from the Department of Justice," Jacobs said. "It's the kind of thing I would remember."

Jacobs said officials currently working at News Corp. told him they searched his old files but found nothing to indicate he or anyone else had received a notice from the Justice Department about subpoenas for phone records.

"I am not suggesting the Department of Justice is lying," said Jacobs. But he said if notifications were sent he doesn't know what happened to them and why no one recalls getting them.

On Saturday a Fox News executive told CNN that the outlet's parent company, News Corporation, was notified of the subpoena by the Justice Department in May of 2010, but "it never found its way to Fox News."

The investigation into Rosen centered on a 2009 leak of intelligence related to North Korea and the potential ramifications of imposing further sanctions on the country. Investigators searched Rosen's phone records, e-mails, and security badge logs at the State Department in the course of their probe.

In a separate case, phone records from Associated Press reporters and editors were seized as the government attempted to find out who leaked classified information about a terrorist plot based in Yemen.

The dual instances of reporters' phone records being seized by the government have drawn new scrutiny to how President Barack Obama's administration is handling their battle against government leakers.

Last week Obama said he was "troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable," and announced Holder as the leader of a new review into government practices and procedures in investigating journalists.

Part of that review will begin this week as Holder meets with the chiefs of Washington news bureaus. The meetings will later extend to representatives from a wide range of media outlets, including newspapers, wire services, radio and television broadcasters, and online organizations.

A Justice Department official said executives and general counsels of media companies would be included in later discussions along with intelligence experts from within the government. Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole will participate in the meetings, the official said.

But some lawmakers have questioned whether Holder should be responsible for conducting the review, since he was directly involved in the decision to seek a search warrant to search the Fox reporter's e-mail records. Republicans and Democrats alike expressed skepticism at Holder's impartiality on Sunday talk shows.

"You cannot investigate yourself, and I think it's a total conflict of interest," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday.

Holder also faces questions from Republicans on Capitol Hill, who are looking into whether the attorney general lied under oath earlier this month when he said he wasn't involved in the "potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material."

"That is not something I've ever been involved in, heard of, would think would be wise policy," Holder said at the May 15 hearing.

It has since been reported that Holder signed off on the Justice Department's decision to seek a search warrant for Rosen's private e-mails. The affidavit used to obtain that warrant said there was probable cause the reporter had broken the law when he solicited classified information from the government source.

"The media reports and statements issued by the Department regarding the search warrants for Mr. Rosen's emails appear to be at odds with your sworn testimony before the Committee," wrote Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in a letter to Holder Wednesday.

"It is imperative that the Committee, the Congress, and the American people be provided a full and accurate account of your involvement in and approval of these search warrants," read the letter from Goodlatte, who also requested Holder answer a series of questions on the matter by June 5.

An FBI affidavit used to obtain the warrant for Rosen's e-mails said there was probable cause the reporter had broken the law when he allegedly received a leaked classified report from a State Department contractor. The affidavit described Rosen as potentially being an "aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator" to the crime of disclosing government secrets, opening up criticism that the Obama administration was targeting Rosen.

However, the Justice Department did not prosecute Rosen, nor did it file charges against him. While he was listed as a "co-conspirator," that often times does not mean he would be considered a target.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that no prosecution ever took place in the case involving Rosen and Fox News, and therefore it was "self-evident" that any charge Holder lied to the House panel was "inaccurate."

Implying that Republicans were playing politics on the matter, Carney said reporters should "be careful not to conflate facts with statements by members of Congress about what they want to be true." Pressed further, he added that reporters were "conflating a subpoena with prosecution."

Asked if Obama still had full confidence in the attorney general, Carney replied: "He absolutely does, yes."

CNN's Carol Cratty, Kevin Liptak, Dana Bash, Deirdre Walsh, Tom Cohen and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Eric Holder • Justice Department
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Independent Thinker

    Iraq, Afghan, Housing bust, Banking Bust....Perscriptions, 911....

    May 29, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. Name

    Chaerlotte

    Oh, right. "Gee, we don't remember anything like that!" Despite the certified letter evidence. Despite the facts. C'mon, Thugturds, you're hoist on your own petard and your only response is "DID NOT!!!" When there's in fact plenty of proof that indeed, they did. Only your fatuous, slobbering base will stand with you on this. You're going to get your backsides thrown out of the courtroom. Hopefully with a bill for court costs.
    _________________________________
    Are you just pulling this out of your rear orifice or do you have actual knowledge that they have this "evidence", they have not released it to the public so I would be curious to hear where you saw them!!! Better learn all the FACTS before questioning someone else about theirs!!!! Libtards will do this though so don't get caught up in the kool-aid drinking!!

    May 29, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Name wrote:

    Are you just pulling this out of your rear orifice or do you have actual knowledge that they have this "evidence", they have not released it to the public so I would be curious to hear where you saw them!!! Better learn all the FACTS before questioning someone else about theirs!!!! Libtards will do this though so don't get caught up in the kool-aid drinking!!
    --------------
    from the article:

    On Saturday a Fox News executive told CNN that the outlet's parent company, News Corporation, was notified of the subpoena by the Justice Department in May of 2010, but "it never found its way to Fox News."

    "Please do not let the facts get in your way."

    May 29, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. Steve

    Didn't the GOP demand a investigation into these leaks years ago? Now that the justice department is investigating it's being called over reach. Can't have it both ways.

    May 29, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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