Attorney General Eric Holder officially submitted his resignation to President Obama last month after six years at the Department of Justice. Although a replacement for Holder will not be nominated until after the 2014 midterm elections, the attorney general is opening up about his worst decision during his tenure. I can't imagine it was easy for him to choose only one.
Speaking yesterday at a forum held in Washington D.C., Holder said he should have taken a "closer look at the language" used in subpoena naming Fox News' James Rosen as a criminal co-conspirator.
Asked what decision he wishes he could do over, Holder said: "I think about the subpoena to the Fox reporter, Rosen."
Holder was referring to a 2010 search warrant application seeking Rosen's emails. The Justice Department at the time was investigating who leaked information contained in a series of reports by Rosen in 2009 about North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
In the course of seeking Rosen's emails, an FBI agent submitted an affidavit claiming there was evidence that Rosen broke the law, "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator." The affidavit went so far as to invoke the Espionage Act -- pertaining to the unauthorized gathering and transmitting of defense information.
On Wednesday, Holder said that application could have been done "differently" and "better."
"I think that I could have been a little more careful looking at the language that was contained in the filing that we made with the court -- that he was labeled as a co-conspirator," Holder said, while claiming they did that "as a result of the statute."
Holder doesn't seem to actually regret targeting Rosen, but instead regrets the kind of language that was used in his case. Notice how he doesn't mention anything about the importance of non-interference from government in the work of journalists. In his statement Holder justifies the action and says it was necessary under a statute, while at the same attempts to portray that the way things happened "could have been done differently."
As a reminder, the Department of Justice didn't simply monitor the phone calls and emails of Rosen, but monitored the phone lines running to his parent's house and tracked his movements.
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.UPDATE: James Rosen has issued a statement in response to Holder's comments.
They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.
Throughout this ordeal for my family and me, I have tried to keep my head down and continue covering – and breaking – the news. I consider myself blessed to have an employer in Fox News, and a boss in Roger Ailes, who have stood by me and enabled me to remain focused on what matters most to me in professional terms: first-rate journalism. At some later point, I may have more to say about this entire controversy, which – as commentators from across the ideological spectrum have noted – does indeed raise serious concerns about the state of press freedoms under the present administration. Suffice to say for now that the attorney general’s latest comments about my case, like his previous remarks, scarcely address the relevant facts of his conduct.