Attorney General Eric Holder may have lied under oath last week when he told a House committee that he has never been involved in the “potential prosecution” of reporters for disclosing classified material.
Michael Isikoff of NBC News reported Thursday that in fact Holder himself signed off on the search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a crime that involved reporting he did that resulted in the release of classified information.
Sounds like a “potential prosecution” to me. But here”s what Holder said in answer to questions from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) of the House Judiciary Committee:
With regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy. In fact, my view is quite the opposite.
Here’s a video of the exchange. Holder’s possible perjury comes just before the five minute mark.
Last night Karl Rove began the drumbeat, charging Holder’s statement was “potentially a lie to Congress.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Wednesday when to great pains to assert that Obama doesn’t think reporters should be prosecuted:
The President’s view is that if you were to ask him should a reporter ever be prosecuted for doing his or her job, the answer in his view is no.
So how does it make sense that they get labeled potential “co-conspirators?”
In a featured column in the Wall Street Journal today, attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. writes that the Justice Department has “has completely lost sight of the First Amendment” in its pursuit of reporters.
He notes that the Supreme Court, even as recently as 2001, has been clear that reporters must be permitted to do their jobs:
The Supreme Court, however, has repeatedly made clear that the First Amendment forbids the government from making it a crime for a reporter who lawfully obtains information of public concern to publish it—even if he knows his source may have committed a crime by leaking the information.
As the court explained in Bartnicki v. Vopper (2001)—a case in which a radio station broadcast the tape of a cellphone conversation it knew had been illegally recorded and disclosed in violation of federal wiretapping laws—”a stranger’s illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.” To conclude otherwise, the court added, would encourage “timidity and self-censorship” . . .
In the words of the Supreme Court in Times-Picayune Publishing Co. v. United States (1953), the press is tasked with “vigilantly scrutinizing” the government “as a potent check on arbitrary action or abuse.”Apparently none of this matters to the prosecutors (in the Rosen case).
H/T to Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit