If people needed any more evidence that the Justice Department explicitly considered James Rosen's everyday reporting to be tantamount to criminal activity, they were given that evidence on Friday.
The news that the Obama administration fought to be able to access Fox News reporter James Rosen's emails over a long period of time underscores just how much the DOJ latched onto the theory that Rosen was a potential criminal.
Rosen was targeted by the DOJ for his communication with State Department adviser Stephen Kim, who allegedly leaked him information about North Korea's nuclear program. The DOJ infamously labeled Rosen a "co-conspirator" for his attempts to get the information from Kim. Rosen's personal emails were searched, and the records of five different phone lines used by Fox News were also surveilled. On Thursday, it emerged that Attorney General Eric Holder had personally signed off on the Rosen warrant.
President Obama said on Thursday that he worried the investigations would chill national security and investigative journalism, and that reporters should not be prosecuted for "doing their jobs." But his Justice Department apparently did not know this.
The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza reported Friday that DOJ officials sought to keep the search warrant for Rosen's emails secret so that it could continue to monitor them at length. Lizza quoted Ronald Machen, the U.S. Attorney for Washington, DC, who wrote in a court filing that emails are often evidence of an ongoing criminal conspiracy:
E-mails, Machen wrote, “are commonly used by subjects or targets of the criminal investigation at issue, and the e-mail evidence derived from those compelled disclosures frequently forms the core of the Government’s evidence supporting criminal charges.”
He argued that disclosure of the search warrant would preclude the government from monitoring the account, should such a step become necessary in the investigation. Machen added that “some investigations are continued for many years because, while the evidence is not yet sufficient to bring charges, it is sufficient to have identified criminal subjects and/or criminal activity serious enough to justify continuation of the investigation.”
The "criminal subject" in this case is Rosen.