As noted in JTA's story on the ruling (sub. req.), such a broad justification could have ramifications for journalists:
Free-speech advocates, already alarmed by the prosecutionâs unprecedented use of a 1917 statute that criminalizes the mere receipt of classified information, found new grounds to worry in this ruling.
Steven Aftergood, who heads the Secrecy Project for the Federation of American Scientists, a nuclear watchdog, said he was alarmed by Ellisâ classification of the âcollection or transmission of material that is not generally available to the publicâ as meriting a surveillance act wiretap warrant.
âThat could qualify us for a FISA warrant,â Aftergood told JTA. âThatâs at the core of a free press."
The judge also ordered an investigation into how CBS News and other media companies learned of the AIPAC probe in late August of 2004. The DOJ has until the middle of September to tell the judge who in the government leaked news of the probe to CBS.
These are just the latest in series of bad turns for journalists, especially investigative reporters. The Justice Department has launched two high-profile probes to expose and prosecute the leaking of classified information -- first the Plame investigation, and more recently, the investigation into The New York Times story on the NSA warrantless wiretapping progam.