Last week we wrote about receiving our very first Right To Be Forgotten notice from Google, disappearing an earlier post that talked about articles in the NY Times that had been disappeared thanks to other RTBF requests. Yes, someone used a RTBF request to remove our article about the RTBF which was referencing other articles that someone had removed via a RTBF request.
And… yesterday we received a notification that this new article was also chucked down the memory hole thanks to a RTBF request, so that anyone who searches on a particular name in Europe will no longer see that article either. At this point, it’s fairly clear that it’s Thomas Goolnik who is making all of these RTBF requests, as he’s the only individual named. We don’t think either of our articles should be removed even under the EU’s laws that allow for a RTBF, because those laws only apply to out of date/irrelevant information, and the fact that Goolnik has just now made a RTBF request in an attempt to censor us and to edit his own Google results is not obsolete information and is entirely relevant and newsworthy.
Children are being raped, citizens murdered, and lost souls trafficked for sex and the police can’t do anything about it thanks to Apple and Google, senior government lawyers and a top cop have claimed.
In an op-ed in The New York Times, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr; Adrian Leppard, commissioner of the City of London Police; Paris’ chief prosecutor François Molins; and Javier Zaragoza, chief prosecutor of the High Court of Spain, said that the current situation is unsupportable and legal changes are needed to keep the public safe.
A coalition of news organizations that includes The Intercept filed a suit today demanding the release of information about the sentencing of former CIA director and retired general David Petraeus, who last week pleaded guilty to mishandling classified materials.
Petraeus, who admitted to giving secret information to his former mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell, was sentenced on a misdemeanor charge to two years probation and was fined $100,000.
More than 30 people, including high-level government and military officials, reportedly filed letters of support for Petraeus ahead of his sentencing. “The letters paint a portrait of a man considered among the finest military leaders of his generation who also has committed a grave but very uncharacteristic error in judgment,” U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler said at the sentencing.
But those letters, and the sentencing memorandum filed by Petraeus’s lawyers, remain under seal in a federal court in the Western District of North Carolina. The Intercept’s parent company, First Look Media, is joining The New York Times, Bloomberg, the Associated Press, The Washington Post and other media in suing to have them released. (Here’s the motion and a memo laying out the news organization’s arguments.)
“Given the attention the case has received, we think it’s important for the public to see the arguments that Petraeus made for leniency, and the people who wrote letters in support of him,” said Hannah Bloch-Wehba, a fellow with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which is coordinating the lawsuit. Bloch-Wehba said that in other leak cases, sentencing memoranda have been public, but that thanks to a rule particular to the North Carolina court, Petraeus’s escaped scrutiny.
Petraeus’s monetary punishment — which was more than double what his lawyers and prosecutors had agreed on but still amounts to less than he reportedly charges for speaking engagements — stands in contrast to the stiff penalties sought for other recent leakers. The Intercept has noted that the Justice Department appears to have a “two-tier justice system” for punishing leakers, wherein senior officials accused of mishandling classified information have tended to get off with far lighter consequences than lower-level leakers.
Indeed, last week the government asked for 19 to 24 years for former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, who was convicted in January of giving classified information about the CIA’s efforts against Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen. Sterling’s lawyers have pointed to the Petraeus deal in asking for leniency, saying the court “cannot turn a blind eye to the positions the government has taken in similar cases.”
Attorney General Holder raised some eyebrows earlier this week when answering a question about his Justice Department’s notorious crackdown on leaks, and by extension the press, most notably saying this about its notorious pursuit of New York Times reporter James Risen, while claiming the DOJ did nothing wrong:
If you look at the last case involving Mr. Risen, the way in which that case was handled after the new policies were put in place [is] an example of how the Justice Department can proceed.
The District Sentinel aptly took apart most of Holder’s comments, and they also provoked a stinging rebuke from Risen himself last night on Twitter. However, I think the facts of Risen’s case deserve a closer look to see just how unbelievable Holder’s statement is.
Let’s recap: since the very start of the Obama administration (read: for SIX years), the Justice Department was trying to subpoena James Risen. It fought for him to testify at a grand jury of CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, which he refused to do, and when they were rejected by the court, it fought to have him testify in Sterling’s trial. They fought Risen on this all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Also, keep in mind, while the “new” media/leak guidelines that Holder bragged about are certainly a step forward, the old guidelines that applied to Risen’s case should have protected him just the same from the start—if they were actually enforced. He doesn’t get to pretend the preceding five and a half years didn’t happen just because he stregthened the Justice Department’s rules after public protest.
The case cost Risen and his publisher an untold fortune in legal fees, dominated his life, took away from time he could’ve spent reporting, and likely cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.
Along the way, we found out that the government had spied on virtually every aspect of James Risen’s digital life from phone calls, to emails, to credit card statements, bank records and more. (By the way, we still have no idea how they got this information. That’s secret.)
The Justice Department argued in court that not only was there no reporter’s privilege whatsoever — either embedded in the First Amendment or in Fourth Circuit common law — but also that journalists protecting sources was analogous to protecting drug dealers from prosecution.