DOJ Secretly Obtained Phone Records Of 20 Associated Press Reporters And Editors

Today we learned the Department of Justice secretly obtained phone records of 20 reporters and editors at the Associated Press. This news should alarm not just the AP and other news organizations, it should concern everyone. The AP learned of the secret probe this past Friday in a letter from the DOJ. While the letter revealed that the government obtained the phone records, it did not reveal why.

In a letter of protest sent to the DOJ, AP Chief Executive Office Gary Pruitt said, “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.”

As reported on The Rachel Maddow Show on Monday night and hinted in the AP article today, it is believed the probe was related to a leak of classified information about a thwarted terrorist plot in Yemen last year.

AP — The government would not say why it sought the records. Officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

Also of interest in today’s AP story is this:

The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of providing classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.

That is disturbing. Regardless of your ideology, the idea that government can do no wrong is credulous.Sometimes you need whistle-blowers  and the unprecedented level of cases against these whistle-blowers is a threat to the balance of power between government and a free people.

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