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Democrats Privacy The Media Government United States Politics

US Justice Department Dug Up Reporter's Phone, Bank Records 217

Posted by timothy
from the speak-loudly-into-the-wiretap-please dept.
tripleevenfall writes "A court filing provides new details about the extraordinary measures Justice Department prosecutors are using to identify government leakers. Prosecutors obtained a suspect's telephone, credit and bank records. Lucy Dalglish, of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said, 'This tells us the Obama administration will do almost anything to figure out who is leaking government information.'"
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US Justice Department Dug Up Reporter's Phone, Bank Records

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  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday February 26, 2011 @07:24PM (#35326802)
    ...journalists should learn about Tor, email encryption, steganography, and other privacy protecting technologies. It is unfortunate, but if journalists wish to protect their sources, these are the lengths they will have to go to (if not now, then in the near future).
    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      ... you just gave me a great idea for a business. It's getting to the point where those services are *required* by journalists and others.
      • Let's see how fast the government tries to nix or affect you negatively if you make a business model meant to stop them doing their oversight work on us.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday February 26, 2011 @07:43PM (#35326928)

      ...journalists should learn about Tor, email encryption, steganography, and other privacy protecting technologies.

      They should also be using their "bully pulpits" to argue against the ongoing centralisation of databases. If our society weren't so enthused with the centralized collection of as much data as possible about its citizens, these sorts of trawling expeditions would be much more difficult to pull off.

      We need policies and laws that restrict such databases to collecting and maintaining records to the minimum required for their primary purpose only. For example, call records that go back at least 6 years are completely unnecessary for billing purposes - 6 months, maybe a year at tops, should be the limit.

      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        If our society weren't so enthused with the centralized collection of as much data as possible about its citizens,

        "our"? - speak for yourself, probably-American!

        "society"? - are you sure it's an across the whole of society problem, or largely confined to one sector of society?

        Most (not all, but most) of the drive and support for such programmes seems to come from a relatively small range of business and governmental bodies. That's not society as a whole, that's just a small number of (admittedly powerful)

        • "our"? - speak for yourself, probably-American!

          Considering this a story about the freaking US government doing this to some of its citizens, what the hell country did you think I was talking about? Don't be a dumbass.

          Most (not all, but most) of the drive and support for such programmes seems to come from a relatively small range of business and governmental bodies.

          No, the drive comes from the companies themselves - they see immediate value to creating such databases for their primary purposes - billing, trouble-shooting, etc. But because storage is so cheap they figure why the hell not just keep the data around in case they can come up with some other uses for it. It is an extremely rare company t

    • We also need to figure out how, as a wired civilization (buy a newspaper, why when I can get infotainment for free?), we will support journalists' organizations. We need someone to watch the watchers.

  • really? Now that IS news.

    • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Saturday February 26, 2011 @07:51PM (#35326960) Homepage Journal
      No, Obama hasn't been in for 6 years. However, we are in the start of the 11th year of the Bush Administration and their agenda.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Mashiki (184564)

        That's odd. I seem to remember Bush getting railed all the time for just about anything, including gas prices in the US. Obama seems to be living the easy life, with no tough questions, or even worrying about world issues(not that there's a shortage). Personally to an outsider, who pays attention to US news, this all reeks of media whitewashing their favorite kid, because well he can do no wrong. Unlike that other guy, who ended up not being as bad as everyone thought.

        Oh I'm sure people will be frothing

        • by corbettw (214229)

          You sound like a racist, teabagging, Republican.

          </sarcasm>

          Just kidding, I think you're right on the money. But anytime I try to say something like that, that's invariably the response I get. Pretty infuriating.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Breathwork (1977146)

            Interesting... I don't know a single "liberal" who likes Obama at this point. Almost every progressive person I talk to says Obama is a disgrace. From where I'm sitting here's his track record:

            80% - Percent of Campaign Promises Broken
            18% - Percent of Campaign Promises he attempted to fullfill knowing ahead of time they would not, to give the illusion he is "trying"
            2% - Percent of Campaign Promises he has actually kept (usually the conservative ones with a few exceptions).

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I seem to remember Bush getting railed all the time for just about anything

          You remember wrong. Nobody asked Bush any of the important or difficult questions, especially when they should have and it may have made a change. From the start, Bush got a free ride - and the Republican noise machine took care to drown any questions, and to paint all dissenters as un-American, traitors or worse.

          Here are just a few examples (we could easily find hundreds more): Bush's whole budgeting was based on the proj

  • Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Saturday February 26, 2011 @07:45PM (#35326944) Homepage Journal
    Should read

    "This tells us the Obama Administration will do everything that the Bush Administration did"

    And that applies to a lot more than just matters of "national security".
    • by Jeremi (14640)

      "This tells us the Obama Administration will do everything that the Bush Administration did"

      I, for one, am looking forward to next year's invasion of some annoying-yet-irrelevent country. Where will we fail to find the WMDs this time?

      • by hedwards (940851)

        I suggest Jamaica or perhaps Tahiti, plenty of beaches and sun.

        • by grcumb (781340)

          I suggest Jamaica or perhaps Tahiti, plenty of beaches and sun.

          Well, Tahiti, the nation that gave the world the coconut bra, is full of French people, a society that knowingly, deliberately aided and abetted Jerry Lewis' decades-long spree of crimes against comedy....

          Lock and load, boys. IT'S WOOOOOAAAAARRRRRR!

    • Re:Correction (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gambino21 (809810) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @12:54AM (#35328554)

      Not exactly. Obama seems to be kicking it up a notch in the war against whistle-blowers [salon.com].

      That subpoena had originally been served but was then abandoned by the Bush DOJ, but its revitalization by the Obama administration was but one of many steps taken to dramatically expand the war on whistleblowers being waged by the current President

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday February 26, 2011 @08:14PM (#35327090) Journal

    They are investigating a crime. The guy they pulled the records on is directly linked to it (albeit not a suspect himself due to the nature of the law). They've got a warrant for it too, right and proper. And it's not something unusual in general - quote :

    because subpoenas for financial records are standard practice in criminal investigations, there is no reason for the Justice Department not to use them to obtain records from journalists in leak probes. The data from credit and bank records would allow prosecutors to home in on where journalists have traveled, lunches or dinners they might have paid for, and other information that could help identify their sources for a story, the former prosecutor said.

    So what's the big deal?

    • by corbettw (214229)

      The big deal is the United States has a First Amendment to our Constitution, which guarantees freedom of the press. Traditionally, the very idea of investigating reporters was anathema, and when the Bush Administration did it, people were (rightly) upset about it. But now the Obama Administration is doing that and more, and no one seems to care.

      Just another example that Democrats (and Republicans, too) really don't have principles, they just want the other side to do whatever their side is doing.

    • Sooooo, it would be okay then for the DOJ to have standing taps on all communications going to all reporters and reporting agencies? After all, criminals, including those illegally reporting illegal activity, would go to reporters.

      Would the DOJ, or your local law enforcement, be okay to trail you, because you met with a suspected criminal?

      Back in the day, some (LAPD comes to mind first) agencies would tap pay phones, just trolling ALL of the conversations, then using the information to get search war

      • Trolling = fishing, dragging a large net to see what they can catch. Not the internet version of trolling.

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday February 27, 2011 @01:25AM (#35328664) Journal

        Sooooo, it would be okay then for the DOJ to have standing taps on all communications going to all reporters and reporting agencies? After all, criminals, including those illegally reporting illegal activity, would go to reporters.

        No, because you need to be investigating some specific crime first, one that you know has happened. Furthermore, you need strong evidence that the reporter in question has actually been in contact with the person who is either the perpetrator or an accomplice.

        Would the DOJ, or your local law enforcement, be okay to trail you, because you met with a suspected criminal?

        Depends. If, after said meeting, I have communicated some information that indicates that I have talked to him about criminal matters, and if they believe the subpoena may help pin the suspect down, then sure - so long as they get a proper warrant (i.e. can convince the judge that all of the above hold true).

        Back in the day, some (LAPD comes to mind first) agencies would tap pay phones, just trolling ALL of the conversations

        That is illegal.

        Maybe the first question ought to be do the ends justify the means?

        Depends on the ends and the means. Mass "preemptive" surveillance is never justifiable. Surveillance of one particular person, when the "end" is specific and not vague, and when there is reasonable belief that it may be of help, can be justifiable.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday February 26, 2011 @08:30PM (#35327168)

    From the article:

    Matt Miller, a spokesman for the Justice Department, declined to comment on the court filing or say whether department subpoenas for Risenâ(TM)s bank and credit reports occurred under President Barack Obamaâ(TM)s attorney general, Eric Holder, or earlier, during the Bush administration, when the investigation into Sterling began. A lawyer for Risen also declined comment.

    So we don't actually know under which administration the subpoenas were issued.

    Therefore most of the comments on the story putting forth the idea that Obama = Bush in this case are speculation. It's also interesting to note that the information was obtained with subpoena, so due process was followed.

     

  • "This tells us the Obama administration will do almost anything to figure out who is leaking government information."

    You have to be kidding me. What planet is Ms. Dalglish from, or what is she smoking? Obtaining the telephone, credit, and bank records is pretty much standard procedure for any criminal investigation of any significance. That the administration is doing so as part of a criminal investigation tells us nothing.

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