Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Indymedia DOJ: Eric Holder subpoenas IP address of visitors

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has formally ordered Indymedia to turn over a list of all readers on a specific date, and was told the order could not be revealed without the authorization of the Attorney General. Update 11-10-09.

The order was issued via a grand jury supoena, according to this CBS report today.

U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded:

...all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.
Kristina Clair provides server space for Indymedia.us. She was, not surprisingly, shocked.
Under long-standing Justice Department guidelines, subpoenas to members of the news media are supposed to receive special treatment. One portion of the guidelines, for instance, says that "no subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media" without "the express authorization of the attorney general" - that would be current attorney general Eric Holder - ...
Here's the rest of the story:

U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison's office says the subpoena has been withdrawn, but look at this, Kristina Clair was threatened:
Morrison replied in a one-sentence letter saying the subpoena had been withdrawn. Around the same time, according to the EFF, the group had a series of discussions with assistant U.S. attorneys in Morrison's office who threatened Clair with possible prosecution for obstruction of justice if she disclosed the existence of the already-withdrawn subpoena -- claiming it "may endanger someone's health" and would have a "human cost."

 Update 11-10-09:
Clair requested that Electrontic Frontier Foundation (EFF) look into the legality of the subpoena. They found that the text of a sample subpoena from the DOJ had been altered and the demand for IP addresses, dates, times, etc. was added.  EFF says this:
...it plainly violated the SCA's [Stored Communications Act] restrictions on what types of data the government could obtain using a subpoena.
EFF also confirms that a subpoena cannot order a person to keep the subpoena a secret.

EFF responded to U.S. Attorney Morrison and "invited" his office to seek a court order under a specific statute of the SCA. There were no takers on the court order, but a voicemail left for EFF agreed that Katrina Clair's "silence" was not "compelled," through prior action, but would be followed up with a request for a gag order that very day.

No gag order was sought. The next day, February 25th, EFF received a fax stating that the subpoena had been withdrawn. Read the whole story at EFF, which is very interesting, here.

Some discussion of unconfirmed informaton: Supposedly, a subpoena of this type cannot be issued without the approval of the U.S. Attorney General. Via television today, I heard that Holder had not signed-off on this subpoena, and perhaps that is why it was withdrawn. I can find no confirmation of Holder's approval needed, or if needed, him doing so, or that it was withdrawn because he needed to approve, but did not.


Thanks to wide-awake conservative, and master sculptor David Lemon. Visit him at Clay to Bronze.



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