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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

JOD Targeted TWO Fox News Channel reporters

The Fox News Channel is outraged over new revelations that three of its reporting staffers were targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice in criminal investigations related to their attempts to obtain information from government sources.

James Rosen, the network's chief Washington correspondent, has become a First Amendment cause celebre over his treatment by the Obama administration. But the DOJ, Fox says, also investigated the Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter William La Jeunesse and Fox News producer Mike Levine.

Rosen, according to affidavits filed by FBI agents, was considered a possible criminal co-conspirator.

The Washington Post reported Monday morning that Rosen was the subject of a Department of Justice probe in relation to his reporting about North Korea's likely reactions to new UN sanctions in 2009. Federal investigators read his personal emails, obtained his phone records, and tracked his comings and goings through government buildings.

An FBI agent filed an affidavit in that case claiming that he thought Rosen had broken the law, 'at the very least, either as an aider, abetter and/or co-conspirator.'

None of the three journalists targeted by the Obama administration was notified that the government was spying on his records and emails.

'All three of our colleagues say they were never contacted by the government,' Fox News Channel correspondent Shannon Bream reported on Monday afternoon.

La Jeunesse and Levine were targeted in a separate Department of Justice investigation into leaks related to Operation Fast and Furious, a scandal-plagued DOJ program that sent illicit guns across the Mexican border to drug cartels in the hope of tracing the guns' path to the narcotics gangs.

The federal government lost track of the majority of approximately 2,000 firearms that were allowed to cross the southern U.S. border. More than 300 deaths in Mexico, and the death of at least one U.S. Border Patrol agent, were linked to those weapons.

La Jeunesse broke stories outlining several key elements of the Fast and Furious scandal. Monday's Inspector General report from the DOJ directly quotes his emails, as well as some from Levine, the Fox News producer.

'What we don't know at this point,' Bream reported, 'is if the sources within the Justice Department may have shared those emails with investigators, or if the Fox employees' accounts were directly accessed by investigators. It's simply a question we cannot answer at this point.'

Fox News Channel released a pointed statement from executive vice president of news editorial Michael Clemente.

'We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter,' Clemente said. 'In fact, it is downright chilling.'

'We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.'

The news broke as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was preparing to deliver his daily briefing to reporters, but with correspondents away from their television sets and unaware of the development, questions focused on the first incarnation of the Obama administration's press freedom scandal, involving the Associated Press.

Attorney General Eric Holder has denied having any knowledge of a probe in his agency that saw the phone records of approximately 20 AP employees turned over to federal investigators who sought to determine who had leaked information about the CIA's role in a foiled terror plot in Yemen.

Holder claimed in a congressional hearing last week that he had recused himself from the investigation since he himself was interviewed as a possible suspect or witness.

Carney has denied that Obama was informed about that probe, and said Monday that the president 'is committed to the press's ability to pursue information and protecting the First Amendment.

Obama is 'also mindful,' he added, 'of secret and classified information needing to stay secret and classified for national security reasons.'

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