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Flashback: Obama’s DOJ had a history of secretly obtaining phone records

 (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

President Trump accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his home and office during the 2016 election. Meanwhile, the former President denied all allegations through a spokesman. Specifically, Obama refuted that he or the White House ever ordered the surveillance of a private citizen or interfered in the independent investigation done by the Justice Department.

His statement neither confirms nor denies that there was wiretapping done. It just stipulates that the President did not order it. Something even The New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman admitted to on Twitter.

Obama’s Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder had a history of secretly obtained phone records. In 2013, he targeted journalists for printing a negative story about a failed operation in Yemen.

Mainstream media outlets and experts in the field called Holder’s seizing of phone records “astonishing” and “unprecedented.”

“This investigation is broader and less focused on an individual source or reporter than any of the others we’ve seen,” said Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists, to The Washington Post. “They have swept up an entire collection of press communications. It’s an astonishing assault on core values of our society.”

Rather than subpoena the journalists themselves, Holder obtained the records through their telephone providers including Verizon Wireless. None of them warned the Associated Press that their information had been collected.

Similarly, Holder also went after Fox News reporter James Rosen, who the Justice Department labeled as a possible “criminal co-conspirator” for a report he did about North Korea in 2009.

Even The New York Times bashed Holder for his attack on Rosen.

“With the decision to label a Fox News television reporter a possible ‘co-conspirator’ in a criminal investigation of a news leak, the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.”

Dana Milbank of The Washington Post went a step further, characterizing Holder’s actions as Nixonian.

“The Rosen affair is as flagrant an assault on civil liberties as anything done by George W. Bush’s administration, and it uses technology to silence critics in a way Richard Nixon could only have dreamed of. To treat a reporter as a criminal for doing his job — seeking out information the government doesn’t want made public — deprives Americans of the First Amendment freedom on which all other constitutional rights are based.”

Rosen was never arrested for his report and Holder’s invasion of privacy went totally unchecked.

 


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