FBI now WITHDRAWS its request to subpoena USA Today's records that asked to see who'd clicked on a story

 The FBI is withdrawing its subpoena of USA Today records that would show all the IP addresses and phone numbers of everyone who read one of its articles during a 35-minute period in February saying they caught the suspect 'by other means.'

The article in question was about the deaths of two FBI agents, Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger on February 2 when 55-year-old David Huber started shooting as they approached his Florida apartment shortly after 6 a.m.

Huber was suspected of possessing child porn, but the FBI never revealed why. He had no prior criminal history.

After killing the agents, Huber committed suicide.

The FBI is asking for the information of everyone who read this story between 8.03pm and 8.38pm on February 2 in what USA Today and its publisher Gannett is calling a violation of the First Amendment rights of them and their readers

The FBI is asking for the information of everyone who read this story between 8.03pm and 8.38pm on February 2 in what USA Today and its publisher Gannett is calling a violation of the First Amendment rights of them and their readers

The subpoena asks for the IP addresses and the  phone numbers of the people who read the article to help with a 'federal investigation'

The subpoena asks for the IP addresses and the  phone numbers of the people who read the article to help with a 'federal investigation' 

USA Today was among the many news outfits that covered the story on February 2. It published the story at 9.29 that morning - three-and-a-half hours after it happened.

Then on June 4, the FBI subpoenaed the newspaper for the phone numbers and IP addresses of everyone who clicked on the story during a 35-window that night, between 8.03pm and 8.38pm.

One day later, on June 5, though, they withdrew the subpoena, emailing attorneys for USA Today 'the child sexual exploitation offender subject of the investigation has at this time been identified by other means.' 

The FBI sent an email to attorneys for USA Today on June 5 saying they were withdrawing their subpoena because they identified the suspect 'by other means'

The FBI sent an email to attorneys for USA Today on June 5 saying they were withdrawing their subpoena because they identified the suspect 'by other means'


The reversal came just a few hours after the Department of Justice announced that it would no longer secretly obtain reporters' records during leak investigations, after President Joe Biden called it 'simply, simply wrong' to seize journalists' records and vowed he would not allow the practice to continue. 

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said Saturday that 'in a change to its longstanding practice,' the department 'will not seek compulsory legal process in leak investigations to obtain source information from members of the news media doing their jobs.'

He added: 'The department strongly values a free press, protecting First Amendment values, and is committed to taking all appropriate steps to ensure the independence of journalists.'

The DOJ announced it 'will not seek compulsory legal process in leak investigations to obtain source information from members of the news media doing their jobs'

The DOJ announced it 'will not seek compulsory legal process in leak investigations to obtain source information from members of the news media doing their jobs'

In ruling out 'compulsory legal process' for reporters in leak investigations, the department also appeared to say that it would not force journalists to reveal in court the identity of their sources.

The statement did not define who exactly would be counted as a member of the media for the purposes of the policy and how broadly the protection would apply.

In trying to fight its subpoena, attorneys for USA Today argued it violated the First Amendment.

'A government demand for records that would identify specific individuals who read specific expressive materials, like the Subpoena at issue here, invades the First Amendment rights of both publisher and reader, and must be quashed accordingly,' lawyers for Gannett, the company that owns USA Today, said. 

They added that the subpoena's vague reference to 'a federal criminal investigation' cannot 'possibly justify such an abridgment of free speech.'  

Ordinarily, law enforcement agencies will first make contact with media companies to ask for information. 

It is a cooperative process that does not involve subpoenas. 

The article was about David Lee Huber, 55, who was suspected of exchanging pornographic images of underage children engaging in sex acts. He shot two FBI agents then killed himself

The article was about David Lee Huber, 55, who was suspected of exchanging pornographic images of underage children engaging in sex acts. He shot two FBI agents then killed himself

FBI agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were killed and three others were wounded when 55-year-old David Huber started shooting
FBI agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were killed and three others were wounded when 55-year-old David Huber started shooting

FBI agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were killed and three others were wounded when 55-year-old David Huber started shooting

In going straight for the subpoena, Gannett said the FBI violated the Justice Department's policies and instead tried to strong-arm USA Today into handing over readers' private information without justification. 

The FBI seldom comments when active investigations are involved, and usually will not divulge the nature of investigations  - even when demanding information it needs.  

The FBI also hasn't revealed why it was investigating Huber. 

Huber, who ran a computer consulting businesses, is believed to have used a doorbell camera to monitor the agents before opening fire on them through his closed door as they arrived to execute the search warrant. 

It is understood that Schwartzenberger was killed instantly but Alfin, who had been shot multiple times, returned fire before he died. 

Three other agents were also injured in the shooting. Two of the agents who had to be hospitalized were released. The third agent was treated at the scene.

The divorcee, who was injured when agents returned fire, ended up killing himself after barricading inside the apartment for several hours.    

He was not listed as a sex offender and had no Florida prison record with only minor traffic violations on his rap sheet. 

Broward County records show he was married for 16 years before divorcing in 2016 and was the father of two children. 

FBI now WITHDRAWS its request to subpoena USA Today's records that asked to see who'd clicked on a story FBI now WITHDRAWS its request to subpoena USA Today's records that asked to see who'd clicked on a story Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 05:15 Rating: 5

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