Soon It Will Be a Little Harder for the Justice Department to Snoop on Reporters

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Attorney General Eric Holder will release new guidelines for investigating reporters' communications, The New York Times' Charlie Savage reports. The new rules address two controversial Justice Department moves revealed in May: obtaining the records of more than 20 Associated Press phone lines without the organization's knowledge, and naming Fox News reporter James Risen as a possible co-conspirator in order to secretly get his emails in an investigation into North Korea leaks. Holder's guidelines would block the FBI "from portraying a reporter as a co-conspirator in a criminal leak as a way to get around a legal bar on secret search warrants for reporting materials," Savage reports. And they would make it harder to get reporters' phone records without notifying the news organization.

Update: The new guidelines will say media organizations must be notified of subpoena requests unless it would "pose a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation," Reuters reports. And the attorney general would have to sign off on the danger threat, which would give the justice department 45 days. After that, the attorney general would have to renew his signature, The Washington Post reports.

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Since the May revelations, Holder has tried to make nice with reporters. That's been met with mixed success. The Daily Beast reported that when the justice department's actions were made public, Holder began "to feel a creeping sense of personal remorse." Despite his remorse, several news outlets boycotted an off-the-record meeting Holder held to discuss the leak investigations. A justice department official told the Times that this is as far as Holder can go until Congress passes media shield law.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.