While investigating a 2009 leak pertaining to North Korea, the Justice Department spied on Fox News reporter James Rosen, according to a report by the Washington Post.
The Justice Department sought more than just the chief Washington correspondent’s phone records. It used security badge access records to track all of Rosen’s arrivals and departures from the State Department, according to a court affidavit. They also obtained a warrant to search his personal emails.
A State Department official, Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, was suspected of leaking classified information about North Korea. The DOJ traced the time of Rosen’s phone calls with Kim.
The Washington Post says the Kim case raises a number of concerns, including press freedom surrounding the exchange of information between a journalist and his or her sources.
President Obama’s administration has come under scrutiny after the DOJ secretly obtained phone records belonging to reporters and editors of the Associated Press. Obama defended the DOJ’s handling of the investigation into the AP’s records, citing national security concerns.
Obama said freedom of the press must strike a balance with the protection of American interests overseas.
On June 11, 2009, Rosen reported that U.S. intelligence learned North Korea was likely to respond to sanctions from the United Nations with more nuclear tests. Rosen wrote the Central Intelligence Agency received this warning from sources in North Korea.
The story itself was published online the same day that a close circle of intelligence officials, including Kim, received a top-secret report. The FBI investigated Rosen because they believed Kim shared that report with him.
Rosen’s name does not appear on court documents, but the Washington Post says his name is on the article at the center of the probe.
The affidavit said a reporter under the alias “Leo” told Kim, alias “Alex”: “What I am interested in, as you might expect, is breaking news ahead of my competitors” including “what intelligence is picking up.”
“I’d love to see some internal State Department analyses,” he added.
In October 2012, Republican lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to Obama telling him to get his administration in order and crack down on national security leaks. In particular, the seven officials were concerned that a leak could have thwarted efforts in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.