On Wednesday, the chief judge of the District’s federal court issued an order apologizing to the media and the public for not making court documents widely available online when he was ordered to in November of 2011.
According to those documents, the Justice Department had a dossier of information about Fox News’ James Rosen’s interactions with the State Department, including a search warrant for his personal emails.
The effort follows that by the department to secretly obtain two months of phone records from Associated Press journalists as part of a separate leak probe. The department in this case, though, went a step further — as an FBI agent claimed there’s evidence the Fox News correspondent broke the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”
The Washington Post reported:
The gesture of transparency by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth comes at a time when the Obama administration is under scrutiny for an unprecedented number of leak investigations, including one showing that the Justice Department had secretly probed the news-gathering activities of Fox News reporter James Rosen.
The investigation of Rosen was first reported Monday, after The Washington Post obtained court documents containing details of the case.
A federal judge had ordered the documents unsealed in November 2011, but they were kept sealed for 18 months and not posted on the court’s online docket until last week, after The Post inquired about them.
Lamberth blamed a series of administrative errors and said a review of the “performance of the personnel involved is underway.” He also said he was creating a new category on the court’s Web site where all search and arrest warrants will be made public unless they fall under a separate sealing order.
The administration’s media surveillance has unleashed a wave of condemnation from the left as well as the right.
On Tuesday, the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists sent an outraged letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, in which it warned that the DOJ’s secret subpoenas for over 20 AP phone lines “represent a damaging setback for press freedom in the United States.” This came on the heels of a letter signed by over 50 media outlets which made similar arguments.
So what an amazing coincidence. With the 2012 election season looming, a release that was potentially damaging to Obama’s reelection chances, never saw the light of day because of “administration errors.” Can’t wait to hear the results of the internal review.