© Miri WTPOTUS May 16, 2013
By now, almost everyone is aware of three scandals currently plaguing the Obama administration: Benghazi talking points, IRS targeting of conservatives, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) subpoenaing telephone records of AP reporters to investigate an alleged national security leak. Let’s look at that last scandal in more depth.
Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment and media attorney, said, “The breathtaking scope of these subpoenas served on the telephone companies might suggest that after all this time, they [the DOJ] have no idea who they’re looking for.” …
“I don’t think that there is any doubt that this is a serious investigation that they have spent a lot of time on and that they feel deeply about,” Abrams said. Justice’s targeting of a large number of phone lines and the AP journalists who use them “taken together, certainly makes it look like the largest, most intrusive action by the government vis-a-vis the press that I can remember.” [emphasis added to all quotes]
Most news stories report that these were only “phone logs”, not tapped conversations. The logs
… listed outgoing calls 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. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of calls.
Getting phone logs for AP reporters who worked out of the House of Representatives is especially problematic, according to Representative Devin Nunes, because it raises the issue of separation of powers. By what right does the DOJ demand access to phone records that potentially concern members of Congress, the representatives of the People?
Another question is why this subpoena was “overbroad”, sweeping up records from as many as 100 reporters, most of whom were not involved in the leak investigation. President and CEO of the AP, Gary Pruitt, wants answers and has written to the DOJ, demanding them.
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 news gathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s news gathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.
We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.
Another issue is whether or not Eric Holder truly recused himself from this situation BEFORE the activity came to light. He said,
I can’t remember when I recused myself from the AP investigation, and I know I didn’t do it in writing
Sound familiar? It has been suggested that ANY Attorney General could simply use a similar secret recusal with no paper trail to evade any uncomfortable revelation. One reporter asked on Twitter:
If there’s no written record of recusal, who told DAG Cole that he was running the AP investigation?
Because these are only phone “logs”, no conversations were recorded, or so this story alleges:
The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.
But is that assumption true? The media would be wise to not rely upon such reassurances and dig deeper into the activities of the Obama administration. Consider this story from the first week of this month:
Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government? A former FBI counterterrorism agent claims on CNN that this is the case:
The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.
In the context of the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing, Erin Burnett of CNN interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent. She asked whether the FBI could somehow learn what was said between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife over the telephone, before and after the terrorist attack:
BURNETT: … There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: “No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
Clemente appeared again on CNN and elaborated further:
[He] added expressly that “all digital communications in the past” are recorded and stored: repeat that last part: “no digital communication is secure”, by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications – meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like – are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact.
To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is. …
[Former AT&T engineer Mark Klein revealed] “that the NSA [National Security Agency] set up a system that vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T” and that “contrary to the government’s depiction of its surveillance program as aimed at overseas terrorists . . . much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic.” …
“Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications,” [according to a story in the Washington Post].
You can see the obvious danger here. Clemente took pains to say that this isn’t anything the FBI will likely ever present in a court, which suggests that they know that it’s constitutionally problematic. But it gives them INFORMATION, and knowledge is, of course, POWER.
Doubtless the Obama administration would suggest that this is merely one freedom (our privacy) that we Americans MUST surrender in order to be kept safe. This “leak” involves “national security”, so they have to listen to all of those phone conversations, in order to keep us safe.
What else might they learn, unrelated to the alleged leak? Can they be trusted to not use, politically, anything they learned outside the realm of their investigation into the “leak”? Why WAS that subpoena so “overbroad”?
Trust them. They capture and store ALL of our “digital communications” only so that they will be able to retrospectively go back and nail terrorists. Criminals. Someone like Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife, if she happens to be complicit in his crimes.
They’re not targeting ordinary Americans who are simply going about their business, or reporters who are exercising their constitutionally protected rights to free speech and freedom of the press. (May as well mention freedom of association, too.)
AP reporters had better sit up and take notice. With their telephone records–date, time, number called–OBAMA’S GOVERNMENT can now easily go back through the NSA’s billions of captured, recorded, and stored digital phone conversations and learn not only who possibly leaked national security information but also the details of every reporter’s conversations with ANY of their sources during those two months.
What power that ability hands to this corrupt administration! “Corrupt” to us, who’ve been watching this administration from the beginning; but “corrupt” to the previously “Obama lapdog media”?
Do these 100+ reporters TRUST Obama and Holder to NOT use what they now know to their political advantage, especially in light of what reporters learned recently about how the IRS targeted political opponents of Barack Hussein Obama?