Breaking: DOJ secretly seized two months of Associated Press phone records?

posted at 4:51 pm on May 13, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

What the heck? From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

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 all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt dispatched a letter to AG Holder on Monday, and the man is understandably not pleased about what looks like a very serious intrusion from the federal government:

“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.

Update: The Associated Press says that, in the letter they received from the DOJ on Friday notifying them of the DOJ’s actions, they were offered no explanation for the seizure, but sounds like the AP suspects it had to do with a DOJ investigation into who “leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot” that disclosed “details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.”

This is not a good day for the White House. The IRS has been specifically targeting conservative groups; HHS Secretary Sebelius has been extorting money from health industry executives; and now it looks like the DOJ has been seriously meddling into the freedom of the press? No doubt they’ll claim that it was all for the sake of national security and plugging leaks of classified information, or hey, perhaps that this was just a mix-up by some low-level Justice employees, or something… Or maybe they’re going for a, ‘Heck, let’s just overwhelm everybody and air the thugocracy scandals out all at once’-type strategy?

Update: Optics.

Update: Here’s the AP president’s letter to Holder in full.

Update: And the statement from the DOJ:

We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations. Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media. We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.

Update: No comment from Carney:

Update (MKH): This is apparently the leak that launched a thousand phone log seizures:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, The Associated Press has learned.

The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but this time al-Qaida developed a more refined detonation system, U.S. officials said.

The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.


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Maybe he’ll pull a Jim McGreevey with the Mooch by his side. The press will swoon that he’s so brave, forgive everything else and declare him gay preezy for life.

BeachBum on May 13, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Boy this is fun to watch..everyday something new comes out..some new scandal..How much more is it gonna take to start impeachment hearings?

sadsushi on May 13, 2013 at 7:44 PM

I’m more of a jump up to run off before he pukes on camera guy.

arnold ziffel on May 13, 2013 at 7:35 PM

lol!

INC on May 13, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Do you think the cheerleaders at NBC ABC and CBS are wondering if their phone records have been scooped or if Eric Holder is listening in for their messiah?

dogsoldier on May 13, 2013 at 6:50 PM

They probably assume FOXnews’ phones are being tapped and that they are safe.

They don’t criticize Comrade O, so why would he be interested in what they are saying to each other. They are on the same side and they tell their relatives in the WH everything.

farsighted on May 13, 2013 at 7:27 PM

So did the Associated Press! They’ve been among Dear Leader’s leading cheering sections, which makes this even scarier…

Del Dolemonte on May 13, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Boy this is fun to watch..everyday something new comes out..some new scandal..How much more is it gonna take to start impeachment hearings?

sadsushi on May 13, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Need a supermajority in the (Democrat-held) Senate to do that, and Reid will never let it happen.

Del Dolemonte on May 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM

LOL …
Dennis Miller:
Jay Carney is shakier than a jackhammer operator playing Jenga on his lunch break.

LOL.

pambi on May 13, 2013 at 7:51 PM

What’s the big deal?

I don’t see how the government getting the information from the AP is any different than if my employer reviews my work email account.

malclave on May 13, 2013 at 7:53 PM

You Democrats called Chimpy Bush “Hitler” for 8 years. Go to the Democrat Search Engine Google right now and type in the words “Bush Hitler” and you will still get 120 million results.

You really need a bigger shovel.

Del Dolemonte on May 13, 2013 at 5:50 PM

.
That Hitler guy was nothing compared to Obama….

If only Hitler had twitter.

redguy on May 13, 2013 at 5:54 PM

.
HAH ! ….. just wait till the anti-Christ gets on the scene, and has all of that ‘Ray Kurzweil’ technology to play with.

listens2glenn on May 13, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Stealing this from Karl D. who posts the Market Ticker

“Are you tired of this crap yet? Why do you sit for it? Why do you consent? Why do you not only tolerate this from Democrats and Republicans but at the same time put up with the same crap from so-called “Libertarians”?

Where is your tolerance point. Is it before or after you’re sent in to take a “shower” with gas instead of water?”

riverrat10k on May 13, 2013 at 7:55 PM

They don’t criticize Comrade O, so why would he be interested in what they are saying to each other. They are on the same side and they tell their relatives in the WH everything.

farsighted on May 13, 2013 at 7:27 PM

So did the Associated Press! They’ve been among Dear Leader’s leading cheering sections, which makes this even scarier…

Del Dolemonte on May 13, 2013 at 7:49 PM

I realize that. And you realize that. But do the PTB at CBS, NBC, and ABC realize that?

Five years ago I would say yes. Not any more.

farsighted on May 13, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Boy this is fun to watch..everyday something new comes out..some new scandal..How much more is it gonna take to start impeachment hearings?

sadsushi on May 13, 2013 at 7:44 PM

With this crew a whole lot more unless they get caught making fun of gays.

arnold ziffel on May 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM

What’s the big deal?

I don’t see how the government getting the information from the AP is any different than if my employer reviews my work email account.

malclave on May 13, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Your employer has a right. AP does not work for the government, the government works for us. How about you sneaking peeks at your employers emails and getting caught. Think you might get fired?

VegasRick on May 13, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Has Fox News checked the security on all their communications..?

d1carter on May 13, 2013 at 7:23 PM

I wouldn’t be surprised if Ailes has a private security firm do frequent checks and bug sweeps.

farsighted on May 13, 2013 at 7:29 PM

When the government bugs you none of those techniques will detect it.

slickwillie2001 on May 13, 2013 at 8:09 PM

AP does not work for the government

VegasRick on May 13, 2013 at 8:04 PM

When did that change?

(sorry, I probably should have put a /sarc tag in my previous comment… and maybe this one)

malclave on May 13, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Now is a good time for Carney and other WH flunkies to resign to spend more time with their families.

Philly on May 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Need a supermajority in the (Democrat-held) Senate to do that, and Reid will never let it happen.

Del Dolemonte on May 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Impeachment is done in the House. It’s legally the same as an indictment. The Senate is responsible for conviction or acquittal.

Reid would never allow conviction, but impeachment could certainly happen.

Bat Chain Puller on May 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Need a supermajority in the (Democrat-held) Senate to do that, and Reid will never let it happen.

Del Dolemonte on May 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Impeachment is done in the House. It’s legally the same as an indictment. The Senate is responsible for conviction or acquittal.

Reid would never allow conviction, but impeachment could certainly happen.

Bat Chain Puller on May 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Having lived thru the Clinton one, I will always define it as both of the two proceedings combined. Not legally accurate, but I went to law school at Moe Howard U.

And even though Clinton defenders can claim from here till the end of time that he was never convicted by the Senate, he will always hold the dubious distinction of being the first elected President to be impeached by the House.

Del Dolemonte on May 13, 2013 at 8:56 PM

This really puts the State Run Media on trial…the pressure grows. What will they do..?

d1carter on May 13, 2013 at 9:34 PM

nonpartisan on May 13, 2013 at 5:28 PM

It seems I have misjudged you. You really are that stupid.

S. D. on May 13, 2013 at 9:58 PM

They lie with those dogs, they got bitten.

SouthernGent on May 13, 2013 at 10:22 PM

It’s been done before by the Bush administration.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2006/05/federal_source_/

Nice to see the Obama apologists try to spin this though.

Benaiah on May 13, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Either we are a Nation of Laws or we are not…

Seven Percent Solution on May 13, 2013 at 10:37 PM

This is what you get when you try to throw the CIA under the bus…

… Suck on it Obowma!

Seven Percent Solution on May 13, 2013 at 10:48 PM

Seven Percent Solution on May 13, 2013 at 10:37 PM

Not.

malclave on May 13, 2013 at 10:49 PM

It is possible that the House does not act on this due to the fact it is just a Two Party Evil Money Cult con going on in Washington D.C..

We are just the marks.

For every problem there is a solution.

Some of the solutions are not all that pleasing to U.S. all.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on May 13, 2013 at 10:58 PM

This TOTALLY Pis### me off…It’s Karma for the AP for sure, but still isn’t right.

Gosh, we try to warn these idiots, they think we are the idiots, and now their chickens have come home to roost.

shar61 on May 13, 2013 at 11:05 PM

When the Bush was in power they listened to the terrorists and the lefties screamed and the terrorists went silent and so did the valuable intell go silent. There really is a difference what you are listening for.

mixplix on May 13, 2013 at 11:13 PM

I wonder if AP would use the word “unexpectedly” in this story.

Meanwhile, no American can assume he/she has any privacy from our government anymore. All-seeing, all-knowing Big Brother is here.

The Rogue Tomato on May 13, 2013 at 11:28 PM

This activity by the DOJ sounds pretty sinister, but I still think the motivation behind Fast and Furious was pure as the wind-driven snow.

jdpaz on May 14, 2013 at 12:14 AM

This activity by the DOJ sounds pretty sinister, but I still think the motivation behind Fast and Furious was pure as the wind-driven snow.

jdpaz on May 14, 2013 at 12:14 AM

Except Holder peed in the snow first.

The Rogue Tomato on May 14, 2013 at 12:43 AM

UPDATE: The Department of Alleged Justice went from a legal entity to a purely political hack factory on January the 20th back in 2009.

Leaning Forward usually ends with a self-inflicted face-plant, you progressive polluters of the body politic.

hillbillyjim on May 14, 2013 at 2:48 AM

They don’t criticize Comrade O, so why would he be interested in what they are saying to each other. They are on the same side and they tell their relatives in the WH everything.

farsighted on May 13, 2013 at 7:27 PM

As I and another poster said, the AP are/were among his devout followers and cheerleaders.

dogsoldier on May 14, 2013 at 5:38 AM

Either we are a Nation of Laws or we are not…

Seven Percent Solution on May 13, 2013 at 10:37 PM

We haven’t been a nation of laws since 2009.

dogsoldier on May 14, 2013 at 5:42 AM

Drudge is putting out the idea that the Regime let this story out to frighten leakers and whistleblowers.

dogsoldier on May 14, 2013 at 5:57 AM

Jack boots on our throats, stage two?

Don L on May 14, 2013 at 7:01 AM

Drudge is putting out the idea that the Regime let this story out to frighten leakers and whistleblowers.

dogsoldier on May 14, 2013 at 5:57 AM

Sounds like pure Chicago back-alley stuff, but it is hardly the way to win the house next year. Maybe they don’t really care about the house–they have the corrupt souls of half of America and billions of rounds of ammo….

Don L on May 14, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Join with others and pray for the removal of this President from the Oval Office.

Isn’t the AP just the Media Strategy Department for the Obama Campaign (I mean Administration)?

PappyD61 on May 14, 2013 at 7:39 AM

WRKO reported this morning that this story is about to break wide open. Apparently the AP wasn’t alone. Among the other news outlets mentioned in this morning’s report are the WSJ and the NY Times…

dogsoldier on May 14, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Well, the Media made him and they can break him if they get angry enough. I’m not exactly holding my breath in anticipation, but he may have poked a hornet’s nest with this latest trick.

totherightofthem on May 14, 2013 at 8:10 AM

Beck: Seizing AP’s phone records is Obama’s warning to whistle blowers that they better hold their tongues if they know what’s good for them.

petefrt on May 14, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Drudge is putting out the idea that the Regime let this story out to frighten leakers and whistleblowers.

dogsoldier on May 14, 2013 at 5:57 AM

That’s what Beck is saying too.

Rings true to me.

petefrt on May 14, 2013 at 9:45 AM

The Libs: But it was only one agency, and only for two months!”

Ward Cleaver on May 14, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Roger Simon ‏@rogerlsimon 11h

@DRUDGE Has the whole AP story been put out there to scare the press into compliance?

petefrt on May 14, 2013 at 9:49 AM

WRKO reported this morning that this story is about to break wide open. Apparently the AP wasn’t alone. Among the other news outlets mentioned in this morning’s report are the WSJ and the NY Times…

dogsoldier on May 14, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Whoa, if that turns out to be true…

Sounds like the title for a new self-help book:

“Fascists Who Hate Journalists, And The Journalists Who Love Them”

Ward Cleaver on May 14, 2013 at 9:49 AM

May be difficult to impeach Obama this year, but Holder is ripe for the picking. Go for it, he needs to go.

Amazingoly on May 14, 2013 at 10:59 AM

I know that you’re listening, so:

Dear Ms. Napolitano:

I am a big fan of yours and don’t at all agree with all the characterizations of you as an incompetent, softball-playing, socialist hack. Anyways, the reason that I’m writing this is that I’m having a really hard time finding ammo and was wondering if you could spare some from your huge DHS stash. I would certainly be happy to pay fair market value for the ammo and am not looking for a government handout- not that there’s anything wrong with that(!!!). So if you could deliver about a thousand rounds of .45 cal hollow points via UPS (rather than through a muzzle- haha!), I would be most appreciative. I’m sure that you or one of your goons…er…subordinates can hack into my e-mail so that we can discuss the particulars. Thanks in advance.

You friend,

justy

P.S. I think that purchases on the internet are still tax-free for the moment, so if you can hustle things along, that would be much appreciated. Oh, and let me add that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with playing soft ball. I used to enjoy it myself back in the day.

justltl on May 14, 2013 at 12:33 PM

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