Adding to the glut of scandals hitting the Obama administration in recent days is a new report from the Washington Post. According to the piece, Justice Department officials secretly obtained information about a Fox journalist’s conversations and their visits in an investigation into a possible leak.
The case, which centers on Fox journalist James Rosen, is about a government adviser that was accused of leaking information relating to a 2009 story about North Korea. This mornings report in the Washington Post stated that Department of Justice officials obtained email records from Rosen, and tracked his visits to the State Department using security badge tracking.
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The scandal is just one of the several breaking around the Obama administration in May, all of them centering on breaches of privacy and civil rights by the executive office, and other government departments. The new scandals are compounding the effect of questions over the Benghazi embassy attack, and make the remainder of Obama’s term in office more and more unpredictable.
In the Fox news case, government security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim is accused of illegally sharing information with Fox senior Washington correspondent, James Rosen. According to a court affidavit, the journalists movements in the State Department were tracked, and his telephone records were obtained, as well as his emails.
The case shows the lengths that government investigators have gone to to get information on a case they’re working and raises questions about how often this kind of snooping occurs. Comparisons with other recent cases, most notably the acquisition of telephone records of Associated Press journalists.
Journalists, and civil liberties activists, view the relationship between journalists and their sources as sacrosanct. The purposeful undermining of the relationship by the DOJ could be seen as a concerted attempt to undermine the business of journalists, and their ability to uncover stories that might displease the current administration.
The White House is still reeling from earlier scandals, and this piece of news is unlikely to do much to add to the pressure. The only dangerous aspect of the report is the fact that the journalist came from conservative news organization Fox, mirroring the conservative facing attack on Tea Party organizations at the IRS.