Feds seize AP phone records
The Obama administration, already under fire for Benghazi and politically motivated IRS audits, is now being accused of infringing on freedom of the press by secretly seizing Associated Press phone records from last year to track down a leak.
The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department seized two months of telephone records as part of an effort to track down who disclosed classified information about a CIA operation in Yemen to foil an al-Qaeda plot to blow up an airliner bound for the United States. The Post says the phone record subpoenas fit a pattern, noting six government officials have been prosecuted by the Obama administration for releasing secret materials, more than under all previous administrations combined.
The Justice Department obtained the records of cell, office, and home telephones of individual AP reporters and an editor; the AP’s general office telephone numbers in Washington, New York, and Hartford, and the main number for AP reporters covering Congress. The Justice Department informed AP about the records seizure last Friday.
Gary Pruitt, the AP’s president and chief executive, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday suggesting the subpoenas violated federal regulations. He noted there was no advance notice to the AP and no steps taken to narrow the scope of the subpoenas to specific matters relevant to an investigation.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a blog post, says it is time to update the nation’s laws so a consumer’s information held by a third party is protected. “It’s clear that the government was able to get the calling record information, secretly and in large quantities, because it didn’t have to go to AP to get it,” the blog post says. “Instead, it went to the phone companies, who have little incentive to stand up for their customers.”
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