Justice Dept. won’t say why it seized reporters’ phone records

By   /   May 13, 2013  /   7 Comments

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

HARRISBURG – It’s one of those days where those of us who worry about handing too much authority to the federal government were proven right. Again.

The Associated Press this afternoon reports that the U.S. Justice Department seized records for more than 20 telephone lines assigned to AP journalists during 2012.

The AP’s top executive rightly calls it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” of journalists’ privacy:

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 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.

The federal government did not give the Associated Press a reason why they seized the records, because who needs that pesky “freedom of the press” thing in the First Amendment.  And surely this is the first and only time the feds have spied on journalists, right?

So, while the IRS is spending its time scrutinizing the tax records of conservative nonprofits and tea party groups, the Obama Justice Department is tracking communications between journalists and their confidential sources.

Boy, Big Government sure looks warm and cuddly this week.

Boehm is a civil liberties reporter for Watchdog.org and bureau chief for PA Independent. He can be reached at Eric@PAIndependent.com

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Eric is a reporter for Watchdog.org and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes while writing about state governments, pensions, labor issues and economic/civil liberty. Previously, he worked for more than three years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, covering Pennsylvania state politics and occasionally sneaking across the border to Delaware to buy six-packs of beer. He has also lived (in order of desirability) in Brussels, Belgium, Pennsburg, Pa., Fairfield, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and elsewhere. He received a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University in 2009, but he refuses to hang on his wall until his student loans are fully paid off sometime in the mid-2020s. When he steps away from the computer, he enjoys drinking craft beers in classy bars, cheering for an eclectic mix of favorite sports teams (mostly based in Philadelphia) and traveling to new places.

  • guest

    Color me surprised.
    /sarc

  • http://twitter.com/mensrightsrdt mensrights reddits

    The US Federal Government will use the tools at their disposal to intimidate and silence people for political dissent:

    They use speech codes at universities to blackball students selectively:

    http://thefire.org/article/15767.html

    and lower the standard for proof of evidence:

    http://www.cotwa.info/2013/03/fire-on-dear-colleague-letters.html

    and here they’re revealed to use the IRS

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-denounces-reported-irs-targeting-of-conservative-groups/2013/05/13/a0185644-bbdf-11e2-97d4-a479289a31f9_story.html

    and abuse law to selectively collect statistics:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/MRRef/comments/15mnbw/2006_us_doj_refused_to_fund_vawa_studies_focusing/

    EXPECT SHOWTRIALS

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=663651594 Jason Roberts

    i will tell you why they did our government are a bunch of punk ass bitches that are only out to help them selves

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.ryder.144 Linda Ryder

    I get so tired of hearing this bull. The fact is this man Yomama can do what and when and how he does any dam time he wants, and now for years he has gotten away with it and no one does a thing. Even his birth papers were wrong they say well that was 4 years ago, not a dam thing done, what is wronfg with you people, why isnt something being done about this man???

  • http://twitter.com/jguerraeq Antonio Guerra

    Nothing because the original structure of the constitution had been reformed. There is only one power niw and the other 2 are for shiw!

  • nightingayle

    this crap needs to stop and the only way to stop it is to impeach Obama and all his menions, yes, that also means Eric Holder, another arrogant piece of crap

  • catfish

    But impeachment does not remove him from office……………….Am I right? wrong?

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