The Justice Department and Fox News’s Phone Records
The Obama Justice Department has seized the phone records of numbers that are associated with White House staffers and, apparently, with Fox News reporters, according to a document filed in the case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, on October 13, 2011. Kim is a former State Department contractor accused of violating the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking classified information to James Rosen, a Fox News reporter. Ronald C. Machen, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who is prosecuting the case, has seized records associated with two phone numbers at the White House, at least five numbers associated with Fox News, and one that has the same area code and exchange as Rosen’s personal-cell-phone number (the last four numbers are redacted).
In all, Machen has seized records associated with over thirty different phone numbers. In the filing that included the new information, the last four digits of each telephone line targeted by the Obama Administration are redacted. Two of the numbers begin with area code 202 and the exchange 456, which, according to current and former Administration officials, are used exclusively by the White House. (The phone number for the White House switchboard is (202) 456-1414.)
At least five other numbers targeted by the government include the area code 202 and the exchange 824. The phone number for the Fox News Washington bureau, which is publicly available, is (202) 824-0001. Rosen’s work phone number at Fox News begins with the same area code and exchange.
William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney, told The New Yorker this afternoon, “Because that information is sealed, I can’t confirm the owner or subscriber for any of those records.” Asked if the phone numbers of any reporters had been targeted in the Kim investigation, Miller said he could not comment.
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that, as part of the investigation of the Kim leak, Obama’s Department of Justice seized e-mails from Rosen’s personal Gmail account. In the search warrant for that request, the government described Rosen as “an aider, and abettor, and / or co-conspirator” in violating the Espionage Act, noting that the crime can be punished by ten years in prison. Rosen was not indicted in the case, but the suggestion in a government document that a reporter could be guilty of espionage for engaging in routine reporting is unprecedented and has alarmed many journalists and civil libertarians….