The Obama Administration, which has pursued more cases involving leaks from the government to the press than all other administrations combined, has been acting in this fashion since 2009, well before the current AP scandal. A case in point is the case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who was a State Department arms expert with security clearance, and his leaks to James Rosen of Fox News.
Rosen wrote on his blog that U.S. intelligence officials felt that North Korea would respond to United Nations sanctions with more nuclear tests. That information was apparently given him by Kim.
Even though it has not been proven to this day that it’s illegal for a reporter to solicit information, because of the First Amendment’s protection of the press, the Obama Administration went to work. The Justice Department not only grabbed Rosen’s telephone records, they used security badge access records to track the Rosen’s visits to the State Department, traced the timing of his calls with Kim, and obtained a search warrant for Rosen’s e-mails.
The Justice Department has claimed in both the AP and Kim cases that it had obeyed “all applicable laws, regulations, and longstanding Department of Justice policies intended to safeguard the First Amendment interests of the press in reporting the news and the public in receiving it.”
First Amendment lawyer Charles Tobin said, “Search warrants like these have a severe chilling effect on the free flow of important information to the public. That’s a very dangerous road to go down.” Attorney Abbe Lowell, who is defending Kim, asserted, “The latest events show an expansion of this law enforcement technique. Individual reporters or small time periods have turned into 20 [telephone] lines and months of records with no obvious attempt to be targeted or narrow.”
FBI agent Reginald Reyes wrote in an affidavit that Rosen had broken the law “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.” But that statement may well conflict with First Amendment rights.