NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Under fire for spying on journalists, the White House has ordered an unusual review of what the Department of Justice is doing — and why.
As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Friday, the move came amid reports Attorney General Eric Holder, himself, authorized a probe of a Fox News reporter.
It is the latest outrage against an administration already under fire for trampling on the rights of others
Fox reporter James Rosen was labeled a “possible co-conspirator” of the North Koreans, a violation of the Espionage Act, all because he had a 2009 scoop that the North Koreans would respond with more nuclear tests if the West imposed sanctions.
“I will always honor the confidentiality of my dealings with all the sources,” Rosen said.
The Obama administration wanted to know how he got the information. The Justice Department got a warrant that enabled them to go after Rosen’s personal e-mails and phone records.
“You couldn’t claim with a straight face that disclosing whatever he disclosed in that story threatened the national security of the United States,” former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said.
Mukasey said the government has gone too far.
“Something like this, which intimidates both the reporter involved and anybody who would talk to him, makes it a whole lot easier in the future for the government to control the narrative,” Mukasey said.
This as the Justice Department came under fire for seizing two months of phone records from the Associated Press and using the Internal Revenue Service to go after conservative groups like the Tea Party.
White House spokesman Jay Carney was grilled about why the government would identify a reporter as a potential criminal.
“I simply cannot comment on that,” Carney said.
And a president who vowed to operate the most transparent government ever forced to order a review of what his own Justice Department is up to.
“A free press is essential to our democracy. I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable,” Obama said earlier this week.
The attorney general is supposed to report back to the president by July 12. Meanwhile, Fox Executive Vice President for News Michael Clemente said labeling Rosen a co-conspirator of the North Koreans is “downright chilling” to freedom of the press.
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