[ISN] U.S. prosecutors sent subpoena to MSNBC reporter in hacking investigation

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Jun 05 2002 - 01:18:20 PDT

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    By Ted Bridis, Associated Press, 6/4/2002 22:36   
    WASHINGTON (AP) Without required approval, U.S. prosecutors sent a
    subpoena to MSNBC demanding a reporter's notes, e-mails and other
    information as part of an investigation into a nomadic young hacker
    who acknowledged breaking into computers at The New York Times earlier
    this year.
    The subpoena, which was withdrawn weeks later, also demanded any
    similar material from MSNBC involving another journalist who contacted
    the Times on behalf of the newspaper hacker after the break-in, then
    wrote about it for an online publication.
    Under guidelines from the Justice Department, Attorney General John
    Ashcroft or his deputy must personally approve any subpoenas sent to
    journalists, and Barbara Comstock, director of the Office of Public
    Affairs, must review such requests. But senior Justice officials on
    Ashcroft's staff at headquarters said they were unfamiliar with the
    MSNBC subpoena, and Ms. Comstock said she did not review it, officials
    ''If that's true ... they violated their own policy,'' said Lucy
    Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of
    the Press.
    The subpoena was sent to MSNBC by an inexperienced assistant U.S.  
    attorney in New York who did not know about guidelines for sending
    such court orders to news organizations, a federal official said,
    speaking on condition of anonymity. When senior officials in the
    office of U.S. Attorney James B. Comey Jr. found out, they instructed
    him to withdraw the subpoena, this official said.
    The subpoena represents at least the second time since 2001 the Bush
    administration has tried to compel journalists to turn over
    information related to a criminal probe.
    Herbert Hadad, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in New York, declined
    to discuss it.
    The Justice Department last year obtained the personal phone records
    of Associated Press reporter John Solomon after he wrote about a
    federal wiretap of Sen. Robert Torricelli.
    MSNBC's lawyer, Yuki Ishizuka, said it was unclear whether federal
    prosecutors will resubmit the subpoena, but the company has recently
    warned some reporters not to delete e-mails that might be connected to
    the case.
    Ishizuka said the subpoena, withdrawn in mid-May, demanded from MSNBC
    reporter Bob Sullivan any e-mails or notes about conversations about
    the newspaper's computer break-in with hacker Adrian Lamo and Kevin
    Poulsen, now an online journalist.
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