Civil Liberties In The Age Of Obama

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 10, 2009

I am so glad we have an Administration that believes in, and respects a right to privacy.

Oh, wait:

In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.

The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site “not to disclose the existence of this request” unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization.

Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department’s subpoena. (The Independent Media Center is a left-of-center amalgamation of journalists and advocates that – according to their principles of unity and mission statement – work toward “promoting social and economic justice” and “social change.”)

The subpoena (PDF) from 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.

“I didn’t think anything we were doing was worthy of any (federal) attention,” Clair said in a telephone interview with CBSNews.com on Monday. After talking to other Indymedia volunteers, Clair ended up calling the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which represented her at no cost.

(Links omitted.) These kinds of requests are supposed to be authorized by the Attorney-General. As the end of the story makes clear, this one was not.

One needn’t think hard to imagine what kind of press reception this kind of activity would have gotten if it were carried out by the Bush Administration.

  • http://www.intoxination.net intoxination

    Did you read the subpoena? It was entered by the clerk of courts on 1/23/09. That means that was the latest date in which it was granted. Obama became President on 1/20/09 and Holder became AG on 2/2/09. Now how did Obama in less than 72 hours get a prosecutor to take the case, have a grand jury seated, get a judge and that grand jury to listen to their compelling reasons for this subpoena and then issue it? The fact is they didn't.

    Hate to burst the “Obama bashing” bubble, but this was all done under Bush and the court records prove it.

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    Has the Obama Administration withdrawn the subpoena?

    No?

    Well, then.

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    Has the Obama Administration withdrawn the subpoena?

    No?

    Well, then.

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