While the subpoena simply states that the information “relates to a federal criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI,” a little reading between the lines illuminates the most likely scenario.
The USA Today article was about the Fort Lauderdale, Florida shooting in which two FBI agents were killed and three were wounded (which TTAG covered here). It would seem that the FBI believes the suspect(s) were monitoring the USA Today story during that specific 35-minute window, and they want a list of those readers as a way to help find the perpetrator(s).
The only glitch in that narrative is that all indications on the day of the shooting were that the sole suspect killed himself after barricading himself in his apartment for a couple hours immediately after the shootout. So…I have no idea what, exactly, the FBI is looking for.
Meanwhile, USA Today‘s publisher is fighting the subpoena in court, saying that the request violates First Amendment protections (of both the reader and the publisher) as well as DOJ policy. I’d have to agree, given the extremely vague description of why the FBI wants this information. If they can make a compelling case — why they want what they want and why they’re focusing on this article during this timeframe, etc. — they should get a warrant.
More information on this story can be found at Politico here.
What say you?