- An unnamed sourced claims Eric Holder personally signed off the warrant to seize James Rosen’s emails
- The Justice Department believed Rosen to be a ‘possible co-conspirator’
- Holder had previously denied any knowledge of his department’s decision to obtain the phone records of 20 Associated Press reporters
- The president has requested a review of the policy by which the department obtains journalists’ records
PUBLISHED: 20:57 EST, 23 May 2013 | UPDATED: 23:40 EST, 23 May 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder personally signed off on the controversial search warrant that identified Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen as a ‘possible co-conspirator’ in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, an unnamed law enforcement official has claimed.
Rosen, who has not been charged in the case, was the target of a search warrant that enabled Justice Department investigators to secretly seize his private emails after an FBI agent said he had ‘asked, solicited and encouraged … (a source) to disclose sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information.’
The reporter’s emails were seized, with a judge’s approval, as part of the prosecution of Stephen Kim, a State Department adviser who is accused of leaking secret information about North Korea.
Attorney General Eric Holder personally authorized the seizure of James Rosen’s private emails, an unnamed law enforcement official has claimed
Reporter James Rosen was the target of a search warrant that enabled Justice Department investigators to secretly seize his private emails
Holder’s approved the Rosen search in the spring of 2010 after senior Justice Department officials concluded there was ‘probable cause’ that his communications with Kim met the legal burden for such searches.
‘It was approved at the highest levels – and I mean the highest,’ said the law enforcement official, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity on Thursday. He said that explicitly included Holder.
The Justice Department is currently facing public scrutiny over its practices after it was also revealed that it has also obtained the phone records of 20 Associated Press reporters as it sought to determine who had leaked information about the CIA’s role in a foiled terror plot in Yemen.
In that instance, Holder denied any knowledge of the AP subpoena because he had been questioned as a witness in the underlying investigation into the leek.
The disclosure came on the same day that President Barack Obama announced that the Justice Department is going to review the policy under which it obtains journalists’ records in investigations of the leak of government secrets.
Obama acknowledged he is ‘troubled by the possibility that leaks investigations may chill the investigative journalism’ that he says holds government accountable and said he has expressed his concerns to the Attorney General.
But he said his administration would continue to try to find the government employees who are responsible for leaks.
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In recent weeks, the administration has acknowledged secretly seizing portions of two months of phone records from The Associated Press and reading the e-mails of Fox News reporter James Rosen in separate investigations about the publication of government secrets.
The president said the government has to strike the right balance between security and an open society.
President Obama announced on Thursday that the Justice Department is going to review the policy under which it obtains journalists’ records in investigations of the leak of government secrets
He said Holder will meet with representatives of media organizations and report back to him by July 12.
Obama re-stated his support for a media shield law that he said would ‘guard against government overreach.’
Such a law would require a federal judge to sign off before investigators could have a look at the records of journalists.
‘Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law,’ Obama said.
But the president also offered no apologies for his administration’s aggressive pursuit of leakers. The six prosecutions since he took office in 2009 is more than in all other presidencies combined.
‘As commander in chief, I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information,’ he said.
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