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Hullabaloo


Friday, November 15, 2013

 
Oh good. Freedom of the press is sort of, for the moment, maybe, safe

by digby

This is really a question?
Holder indicated that the Justice Department is not planning to prosecute former Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who received documents from Snowden and has written a series of stories based on the leaked material. Greenwald, an American citizen who lives in Brazil, has said he is reluctant to come to the U.S. because he fears detention and possible prosecution.

“Unless information that has not come to my attention is presented to me, what I have indicated in my testimony before Congress is that any journalist who’s engaged in true journalistic activities is not going to be prosecuted by this Justice Department,” Holder said.

“I certainly don’t agree with what Greenwald has done,” Holder said. “In some ways, he blurs the line between advocate and journalist. But on the basis of what I know now, I’m not sure there is a basis for prosecution of Greenwald.”
That's big of him. I wonder if he thinks Lara Logan blurs the line between advocate and journalist? Or Brit Hume? Or Melissa Harris Perry? Or Rachel Maddow?


I'm pretty sure that's advocacy.

I don't happen to think any of those people I mentioned have broken any rules by being advocates and journalists. But I wonder if the Attorney General agrees.

Glenn responded to the generous announcement by the Attorney General that the first Amendment still exists:
“That this question is even on people’s minds is a rather grim reflection of the Obama administration’s record on press freedoms,” he said in an e-mail. “It is a positive step that the Attorney General expressly recognizes that journalism is not and should not be a crime in the United States, but given this administration’s poor record on press freedoms, I’ll consult with my counsel on whether one can or should rely on such caveat-riddled oral assertions about the government’s intentions.”
Yeah, until the Attorney General is more than simply "not sure" there is a basis for prosecuting someone for committing journalism, I think I'd err on the side of caution.

I still can't believe this even a question but just reading the authoritarian pronouncements of allegedly liberal journalists on this subject reminds me that my  faith in the bedrock American values of freedom of speech and the press was naive in the extreme.

Oh and by the way, those same allegedly liberal journalists should, but probably own't, thank Snowden and the journalists who published his files for the fact that the DOJ is now going to do something it should have been doing all along:

The disclosure about the review of criminal cases comes just weeks after the Justice Department informed a suspect for the first time that it intends to use evidence against him gathered through the government’s warrantless surveillance program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The Justice Department notifications are likely to lead to a constitutional challenge to surveillance law, which allows the interception of electronic communication between foreign targets and people in the United States. The Supreme Court had previously declined to hear a challenge to the law because litigants could not prove they had been monitored.

Holder said he did not know how many cases are involved, but he said the notifications will come on a rolling basis as Justice Department officials find the information.

The notifications could, in some instances, involve cases where defendants have already been convicted and are in prison. In those matters, defense attorneys may try to reopen the cases.

For the first time last month, the Justice Department informed a terrorism suspect in Colorado that it intends to use “information obtained or derived from acquisition of foreign intelligence information conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.”

The notification came in the case against Jamshid Muhtorov, a refu­gee from Uzbekistan who lives in Aurora, Colo. He was charged in 2012 with providing material aid to the Islamic Jihad Union, and he and another man were suspected of trying to participate in a terrorist attack planned by the group.

That first notification came after a vigorous internal debate last summer between lawyers in the National Security Division and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who argued that there was no legal basis for withholding disclosure, said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.

The National Security Division lawyers had argued that it was not necessary to make the notifications unless the evidence derived from the wiretap or intercepted e-mail was introduced directly into the case, the official said. Eventually, Verrilli’s argument won out.

The conservative courts will probably just end up legalizing warrantless surveillance as the government tends to do with all these messy questions these days but at least we'll have a little more transparency.
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