Share This Page

Judge apologizes for delay, says 'leak' documents ordered unsealed in '11

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 8:00 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge apologized on Wednesday for an 18-month delay in unsealing documents in a case involving an alleged leak of classified information to a reporter.

The documents include two warrants and related materials for the email accounts of Stephen Kim, a State Department adviser who faces charges of leaking secret information about North Korea to Fox News reporter James Rosen.

The warrants and materials — initially ordered unsealed in November 2011 — will be unsealed this week. Royce Lamberth, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington, said that a “series of administrative errors by the court's staff” caused the delay.

A third search warrant, along with an affidavit for some of Rosen's private emails, also were ordered to be unsealed in November 2011, but those weren't unsealed until last week. Those materials showed that as part of the Kim investigation, the government tracked Rosen's comings and goings from the State Department. An FBI agent said there was probable cause to believe the reporter broke the law. Rosen wasn't charged.

There also was a delay in unsealing Lamberth's 2010 order that the government wasn't required to notify Rosen that his emails had been the subject of a warrant. Although that order was posted on the court's website, it was not available on the public docket until now.

“The clerk's office has been unable to explain why none of these errors were discovered as a result of our ‘quality control' efforts to double-check docket entries and orders daily,” Lamberth wrote in an opinion unsealing the records.

The judge said the court will review performance of personnel involved as well as the court's administrative processes.

“The court apologizes to the public and the media for the administrative errors made by the court's staff in these matters,” he wrote.

The clerk's office declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is denying that it tracked the phone calls of Rosen's parents as part of an investigation into how the Fox News reporter obtained classified information about North Korea's nuclear test plans, Politico reported.

“We did not wiretap the phones of any reporter or news organization. Nor did we monitor or track the phone calls of any reporter's parents. No records were obtained from the computer servers of any news organization,” the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement.

Asked about the documents, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told Fox News earlier that he “can't comment on an ongoing criminal investigation.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.