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Tag: journalists

Trump’s DOJ Secretly Seized Phone Records from New York Times Reporters

court

By Steve Neavling

President Trump’s Justice Department admitted it secretly seized phone records from four reporters for The New York Times as part of a leak investigation.  

It’s the third time in the past month that federal authorities disclosed they had surveilled journalists in an attempt to identify sources for national security stories during Trump’s presidency.

The Times reported Wednesday that the Justice Department had informed the newspaper of the seizure of phone records and secured a court order to take logs of the reporters’ emails.

The leak investigation occurred over a nearly four-month period in 2017. 

The Justice Department also disclosed that it had seized the phone logs of reporters for The Washington Post and the phone and email logs for a CNN reporter. 

“Seizing the phone records of journalists profoundly undermines press freedom,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “It threatens to silence the sources we depend on to provide the public with essential information about what the government is doing.”

The Justice Department did not identify the stories that were being investigated. But based on the reporters and timing of the investigation, The Times believes the probe was related to an April 22, 2017 article about then FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the 2016 presidential election investigation.

Internal Watchdog Investigates Trump Administration’s Secret Database of Journalists, Activists, Lawyers

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security’s internal watchdog is investigating the federal government’s secret surveillance of journalists and activists along the U.S. and Mexico border.

NBC 7 in San Diego revealed the database after receiving leaked documents that showed a list of surveillance targets that included 10 journalists, three attorneys and 46 immigration advocates.

Homeland Security’s acting Inspector General Jennifer Costello confirmed in a letter that “criminal investigators, program analysts, and attorneys” are investigating the secret database, which was part of the Department of Defense’s so-called “Operation Security Line.”

“We plan to review the leaked…document in order to determine why it was created, what it is used for, and what happened to the people named in it,” Costello wrote in the letter. “We also anticipate reviewing other specific allegations of targeting and/or harassment of lawyers, journalists, and advocates and evaluate whether [Customs and Border Protection’s] actions complied with law and policy.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Ct., had harsh words for Trump.

“Putting journalists, attorneys, and activists on a secret government watch list may be a favorite move of one of President Trump’s autocratic friends, but it is not a tactic we should tolerate in our democracy,” Blumenthal said.

Rosenstein: Leak Investigations Won’t Target Journalists

typewriter-reporterBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s escalation of probes into government leaks will not target journalists, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Sunday.

“We don’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs,” Rosenstein said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s not our goal here.”

The Justice Department announced last week that it was stepping up investigation into government leaks. Under the Trump administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said leak investigations have tripled.

“We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer,” Sessions said at a news conference Friday.

Rosenstein clarified Sessions’ position on Sunday.

“The attorney general has been very clear that we’re after the leakers, not the journalist,”  Rosenstein said. “We’re after the people who are committing crimes.”

Other Stories of Interest

White House Renews Calls for Stricter Gun Control Laws After Shooting of Journalists in Virginia

gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The horrific shooting of two Virginia journalists while they were broadcasting live on the air prompted President Obama to renew calls for stricter gun control.

“This is another example of gun violence that is becoming all too common in communities large and small all across the United States,” the president’s press secretary, John Earnest, told reporters at his daily press briefing.

“While there is no piece of legislation that will end all violence in this country, there are some commonsense things that only Congress can do that we know would have a tangible impact in reducing gun violence in this country.”

Other politicians and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton joined the call for tougher gun laws.

“We have got to do something about gun violence. And I will take it on,” Clinton said. “There are many people who face it and know it, but then turn away.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also pledged to push for stronger gun control.

“I put it up again last year. It never sees the light of day,” McAuliffe, a Democrat, said during an interview with the Washington radio station WTOP. “Everyone who purchases a gun in the Commonwealth of Virginia should have to go through a background check. You go into the store, you hand your license over. It doesn’t take … but three, four, maybe five minutes maximum.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI, Marshals Service Bestowed ‘Black Hole Award’ for Refusing to Disclose Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s not an award to celebrate.

The Utah Headlines Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists bestowed the Black Hole Award to the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI.

The Deseret News published a letter to the Attorney General from the journalist group.

The group explained that the agencies won the award for refusing to disclose any information about the April 21, 2014, shooting at a federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.

The shooting by a U.S. marshal killed defendant Siale Angilau, and the case was investigated by the FBI.

“Those few facts and that the Department of Justice elected not to prosecute the marshal comprise what we know,” the group wrote. “No one at the Marshals Service or the FBI will answer more questions. The Marshals Service has denied multiple requests made for documents under the Freedom of Information Act. A request to the FBI has been pending for a year.”

WikiLeaks Journalists Face Serious Charges After Google Hands Over Information

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Three WikiLeaks journalists are facing charges of espionage and conspiracy after Google turned over their confidential data to the U.S. government, WikiLeaks announced on its site Monday morning.

The whistleblower organization now wants an explanation from both Google and the Justice Department.

“The US government is claiming universal jurisdiction to apply the Espionage Act, general Conspiracy statute and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to journalists and publishers – a horrifying precedent for press freedoms around the world,” WikiLeaks posted on its website.

WikiLeaks alleges the warrants violated the Privacy Protection ACt of 1980, “which protects journalists and publishers from being forced to turn over to law enforcement their journalistic work product and documentary materials,” the letter from WikiLeaks attorneys read.

FBI Warns News Agencies That Islamic State Extremists Plan to Kidnap More Journalists

American war reporter James Wright Foley was beheaded by ISIS.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI warned Thursday that it has “credible information” that extremists from an Islamic State-affiliated group plan to kidnap journalists in the region, the Washington Post reports.

The kidnappings are meant to be retaliation against the U.S. for attacks on Iraq and Syria.

Journalists have been called “desirable targets.”

The Islamic State has already beheaded three people, including two American journalists.

Guns And Explosions Bring FBI Agents, Journalists Together at Firing Range

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sometimes the FBI and journalists don’t see eye to eye.

So what’s a better way to nurture that relationship than to host a day at a firing range with reporters in Alabama, AL.com reports?

Journalists and agents gathered Tuesday for FBI Range Day, which gives the media a firsthand look at guns, bombs and explosions.

Reporters from throughout northern Alabama took up arms Tuesday,” AL.com reporter Carol Robinson wrote. “And watched things blow up. And, miraculously, didn’t hurt themselves or each other.”