Judicial Watch • DOJ Secretly Gags Media

DOJ Secretly Gags Media

DOJ Secretly Gags Media

NOVEMBER 10, 2009

The administration that directed Americans to report “fishy” speech opposing its policies and killed a federal decree banning the use of web technologies to invade privacy has ordered an internet news site to provide detailed information on its readers and keep the request secret.

Keeping with its big government motto, the Obama Administration subpoenaed records of reader visits to a Philadelphia-based news web site (Indymedia) and ordered the operators “not to disclose the existence of this request” unless authorized by the Justice Department. In other words, the Obama Administration secretly slapped a media outlet with a gag order to cover its unscrupulous actions. Perhaps the feds need a little refresher course on the First Amendment.

The subpoena demands the unique number assigned to every internet-connected device, known as Internet Protocol (IP), for all traffic to the news site on June 25, 2008. It also requests other identifying information including, addresses, birth dates, Social Security, bank account, credit card and driver’s license numbers. The feds claim they are conducting a criminal investigation which they have yet to disclose.

The request evidently came from the top since Justice Department guidelines specifically state that no subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media without the express authorization of the attorney general (in this case Eric Holder, who orchestrated the shameful pardons of a fugitive financier and a pair of jailed domestic terrorists for Bill Clinton). The guidelines also say that subpoenas to the media must be directed at material information regarding a “limited subject matter,” not the broad information that was requested. 

This case is one of several that indicate big brother is definitely watching. Just a few months ago, the president announced he’d reverse a 9-year-old federal policy forbidding the U.S. government from implementing methods on federal internet sites that threaten private data, track users’ every click and identify people and their viewing habits. Even the notoriously liberal American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chastised the move, assuring it will pose serious threat to Americans’ personal information. 

Around the same time, Obama set up a highly controversial web account for Americans to report “fishy” speech from those who oppose his healthcare policies. The administration eventually got rid of the heavily promoted electronic tip box amid public outrage and questions from lawmakers and privacy groups about how the data would be used by the White House. 

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