Rosenstein, DOJ exploring ways to more easily spy on journalists


PREMO Member
The current guidelines have their origins back to a time when Bill Clinton was president and Janet Reno was attorney general, long before WikiLeaks was a twinkle in Julian Assange’s eye. They were designed to strike a balance between law enforcement’s investigative interests and the First Amendment rights of reporters.

In layman’s terms, the current system requires prosecutors in most cases to exhaust all obvious investigative methods for identifying leaks before seeking to intrude on a journalist’s free-speech rights.

In addition, the rules generally have required DOJ to alert news organizations in advance of a possible subpoena, giving both sides a chance to negotiate before the subpoena — viewed as a nuclear button by most journalists — gets pushed.

Multiple sources familiar with the ongoing DOJ review tell me that it has two main goals. The first is to lower the threshold that prosecutors must meet before requesting subpoenas for journalists’ records; the second is to eliminate the need to alert a media organization that Justice intends to issue a subpoena.