Monday, May 15, 2006

Tracking the Press

Even Nixon didn’t try this.* From The Blotter at ABC News via Raw Story:

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

“It’s time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,” the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.

Our reports on the CIA’s secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials.

People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.

Under Bush Administration guidelines, it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers.

The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded.

A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.

Why am I not surprised? It’s the next logical step in the snooping syndrome. This, however, might get the press off their fat asses and start paying attention to the shredding of the right of privacy undertaken by this administration.

*Update: I stand corrected. Digby relays the tale of Henry Kissinger going after leakers in the Nixon administration.

Further Update – 6:58 p.m. I’m assuming that ABC World News Tonight didn’t cover this story tonight because Brian Ross isn’t ready to put it on the air, not because the immigration story, the Duke rape case, and a nice old lady living under an erupting volcano in Indonesia were more important than the government trying to track down leaks by tapping reporters’ phones.