AP: JUSTICE DEPARTMENT spied on REPORTER’S PHONE CALLS. We’re not surprised, right?
The largest bummer about these kind of news stories isn’t that our government is routinely wiping their bum-bum with what we consider to be our rights. The largest bummer is that we usually read this stories aghast, and then go back about watching reality shows and eating cheesy products. Myself included.
The Associated Press is reporting that the US Department of Justice secretly spied on phone lines used by up to 100 of its reporters in a sweeping surveillance campaign, obtaining personal telephone numbers and details about sources and stories. The Justice Department reportedly obtained subpoenas to access phone records for 20 separate phone lines used by AP staffers for the period of April to May 2012.
The DOJ notified the AP of this surveillance operation in a letter the AP received Friday, but did not specify a reason as to why it was surveilling the reporters. The AP speculates that the move had something to do with the US government’s previously stated investigation into leaked information about a foiled Yemeni terror plot that appeared in a story published by the AP on May 7, 2012. Still, the AP’s CEO is blasting the move as an invasion of privacy and a chilling effect on the First Amendment right to the freedom of the press. As AP CEO Gary Pruitt wrote in a letter to the Justice Department on Monday:
“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.
A spokesperson for US attorney Ronald Machen of the District of Columbia, who issued the subpoenas for the AP‘s phone records, told the AP that the Justice Department followed all laws and applicable procedures in this case. The spokesperson declined to comment further, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.