In another scandalous bombshell, designed to take the media’s focus off of Benghazi, the Department of Justice has been fingered for secretly obtaining telephone records for reporters and editors for the Associated Press.
Townhall provides the AP’s story:
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news. The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown butmore than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies. “There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.
One wonders just what they were looking for. Was it more whistleblowers? Perhaps it was those with a political ax to grind. After all, the Obama administration has already had their Internal Revenue Service (IRS), yes the same IRS that is to enforce Obamacare, targeting conservative and Tea Party groups. We’ve seen the call for that investigation to be started.
AP President and CEO Gary B. Pruitt wrote a scathing letter of protest to Attorney General Eric Holder:
The Justice Department then responded with this Orwellian doublespeak:
We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations. Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media. We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.
Wait, what? You value the press, then apparently just willy-nilly fail to notify them that you are obtaining their phone records, both personal and business? Was there even a warrant issued? It sounds like they were playing fast and furious with the law, especially the Fourth Amendment. It sounds like the press is not happy about their messiah, Barack Obama, trampling on their First Amendment rights.
This story is developing.
Tim Brown is the Editor of Freedom Outpost and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.