Monday, March 20, 2006

hardly worth mentioning...

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office has seized four computer hard drives from the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal as part of a statewide grand-jury investigation into leaks to reporters.

from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The grand jury is investigating whether the Lancaster County coroner gave reporters for the paper his password to a restricted law enforcement Web site. The site contained nonpublic details of local crimes. The newspaper allegedly used some of those details in articles. If the reporters used the Web site without authorization, officials say, they may have committed a crime
[The reporters' lawyer], William DeStefano, and the coroner, Gary Kirchner, disagreed over whether Kirchner had given them permission to access the site.
DeStefano said that although he didn't know whether any of the reporters used the Web site, "evidence has been presented to the attorney general which makes it clear that the county coroner, an elected official, invited and authorized the paper or reporters access to the restricted portion of the Web site... . If somebody is authorized to give me a password and does, it's not hacking."
[. ..]
The coroner said yesterday that he had not "to my knowledge" provided the password or permission to the reporters."Why would I do that?" Kirchner said yesterday. "I'm not sure how I got drawn into something as goofy as this." State agents raided Kirchner's home outside Lancaster last month and took computers, he said. He said he had had no other contact with authorities since.
So this, perhaps, is a glimpse of our future. I don't know what happened, but let's say the coroner did give the reporter[s] his password. Now he's in hot water with his bosses, and the powers that be go to his house and confiscate his computers. Pretty intimidating, and a good way to impress upon Kirchner that he should deny that he "to his knowledge"[sic] gave the password to the press. His denial is apparently enough to create a second warrant for the reporters' and the newspapers' hard drives.(!?) It starts with the humble Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, speaking of sending a message and impressing it upon others, not so much to the indolent general public, but certainly to the Philly Inquirer, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, et al...

via miaculpa, "beat the press",
and American Samizdat "it starts...startled reporters under siege"