FBI demands USA Today hand over details of EVERYONE who read online story about two FBI agents killed during Florida child porn raid, but newspaper REFUSES First Amendment ‘violation’

FBI demands USA Today hand over details of EVERYONE who read online story about two FBI agents killed during Florida child porn raid, but newspaper REFUSES First Amendment ‘violation’

By Jennifer Smith For Dailymail.com16:10 EDT 04 Jun 2021 , updated 05:11 EDT 05 Jun 2021

  • The article was about a child porn raid that killed two of its agents – the suspect committed suicide afterwards 
  • The raid was at 6am and USA Today published at 9.30am 
  • The subpoena asks for the IP addresses and phone numbers of everyone  who clicked on the story between 8.03pm and 8.38pm that night 
  • The FBI Agent who issued it – J. Brooke Donahue – doesn’t say why he wants that specific information, just that it will aide an ongoing investigation 
  • USA Today’s owner, Gannett, is pushing back, calling the subpoena a violation of the First Amendment

The FBI has asked USA Today for the IP addresses and phone numbers of everyone who read one of its articles during a 35-minute period in February as part of an ongoing child porn probe, in what the publisher is calling a violation of the First Amendment.

On February 2, FBI agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were killed and three others were wounded when 55-year-old David Huber started shooting as they approached his apartment in Fort Lauderdale shortly after 6am.

He was suspected of possessing child porn, but the FBI has never revealed why. After killing the agents, he took his own life.

Huber had no criminal record.

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.

Now, the FBI is 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.

The subpoena does not specify why the FBI wants the information, or what it continues to investigate given the fact the agents’ killer is dead.  All it says is that it will aid the investigation.

It was signed by J. Brooke Donahue, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI, Violent Crimes Section, Child Exploitation Operational Unit.

USA Today is fighting back, saying the order violates 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 said the subpoena’s vague reference to ‘a federal criminal investigation’ cannot ‘possibly justify such an abridgment of free speech.’

The FBI has not commented on the subpoena or on what grounds it should have the information.

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.

By Jennifer Smith For Dailymail.com16:10 EDT 04 Jun 2021 , updated 05:11 EDT 05 Jun 2021

 

 

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