Via the New York Times:
Federal investigators secretly seized two months of phone records for reporters and editors of The Associated Press in what the news organization said Monday was a “serious interference with A.P.’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”
The A.P. said that the Justice Department informed it on Friday that law enforcement officials had obtained the records for more than 20 telephone lines of its offices and journalists, including their home phones and cellphones. It said the records were seized without notice sometime this year.
The organization was not told the reason for the seizure. But the timing and the specific journalistic targets strongly suggested they are related to a continuing government investigation into the leaking of information a year ago about the Central Intelligence Agency’s disruption of a Yemen-based terrorist plot to bomb an airliner.
The disclosures began with an Associated Press article on May 7, 2012, breaking the news of the foiled plot; the organization had held off publishing it for several days at the White House’s request because the intelligence operations were still unfolding.
In an angry letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday, Gary Pruitt, the president and chief executive of The A.P., called the seizure, a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news gathering activities.
There had better be a pretty damn good reason for this, and they better have had both warrants and the probable cause to back it up.
Assuming they have that — something we can’t take for granted since the Obama administration seems to be following the Bush playbook of using the GWOT as their cover — then the AP is being a little bit over the top with their response. The Justice Department went after phone records, not the conversations themselves, which law enforcement does quite often… if every case on Law & Order is to be believed.
From a political point of view, it’ll be fun to see how the wingers react. They are always saying the librul media protects the rights of terrorists, and here’s the secret gay Muslim Kenyan socialist going after the press for their records. If Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales had done this, they would have been saving America.