Late on Friday, the New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza reported that the Obama administration did not merely greenlight a search warrant on Fox News reporter James Rosen’s email account – it “fought” to prevent Rosen from learning about it. Ronald C. Machen, Jr., the US attorney prosecuting former State Department advisor and alleged leaker Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, asked a judge to prevent Rosen from learning about the search and seizure of his emails. Machen wrote that emails “are commonly used by subjects or targets of the criminal investigation at issue, and the e-mail evidence derived from those compelled disclosures frequently forms the core of the Government’s evidence supporting criminal charges.”
Machen said that such secrecy should continue indefinitely, since “some investigations are continued for many years because, while the evidence is not yet sufficient to bring charges, it is sufficient to have identified criminal subjects and/or criminal activity serious enough to justify continuation of the investigation.”
Not only did Machen want to ensure that the news of the search didn’t get out via the government; he asked that Google be ordered not to let Rosen know about the email seizures. Machen also wanted the ability to search his emails from time to time.
The search warrant itself was wildly overbroad, asking for access to “Records or information related to the state of mind of any individuals seeking the disclosure or receipt of classified, intelligence and/or national defense information.”
Two judges refused Machen. Finally, the chief judge in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia gave Machen what he wanted.