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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Comment pages: 1 2 3 6

im shocked, no way this happens.

phatfawzi on May 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Holy Crap! IF the admin ever needed the press this is the time and apparently they could care less.

katy on May 13, 2013 at 4:53 PM

The USA
Is Russia today

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

the flood gates have officially opened.

phatfawzi on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Goebbels married his coffin today.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

So….what was going on in the House between April and May of last year?

Zaggs on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

How you like him NOW, ya saps?

mojo on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

What the heck?

Let’s try this
WTF!!

0bama is now going after the press. Will they get off their knees long enough to notice?

cozmo on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

The whole Dam is breaking!!!!!!!

journeymike on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

So I guess now that the election is past we are just going to have a scandal a day?

Fezzik on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

This to happen to you next year.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

“I’m just as shocked as everyone else. I had no idea.”

–President Obama

P.S. “But there’s no there there.”

Nick_Angel on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

It feels like Christmas morning !!!

brewcrew67 on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

If the OBOZO regime seizes phone records and data from one of its most loyal and devoted socialist allies, AP, whose OBOZO butt-kissing and leftist propaganda dissemination ranks as some of the WORST amongst the corrupt MSM – just imagine what they must be doing to organizations that accurately and correctly report The FACTS, The TRUTH and REALITY ??????

IMPEACH OBOZO.

TeaPartyNation on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Ok, now I’ve figured out the Obama Administration’s gameplan. Just have a new scandal every day and overwhelm the American people to the point where they throw their hands up in the air and give up.

Doughboy on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

No Justice, No Press!

cbenoistd on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

The AP will find some way to forgive him, that rascal.

Philly on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

3 strikes, you’re out?

JackForce on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Leftists are never democratic, liberal or progressive.

They are always charlatanic tyrannical law breakers, for power and riches.

Obama repesents them well.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

So what’s the over/under the press will still kiss Obama’s butt?

batter on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Maybe now the sycophantic press will remove their collective lips from the butts of this administration.

Totalitarianism is reached in baby steps, not great leaps.

Charlemagne on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Maybe they threatened Roberts’ family too.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Watch the media attack the AP and cover for Obama…
Not nice people are running the country (and media).

albill on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Shocked I say. How could they possibly step on freedom of the press after discriminating against FOX and using the IRS to attack the TEA Party and smuggling guns to change the second amendment and forcing Catholics to violate their religion? I am truly shocked.

Grunt on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

I’ve never seen such a massive fail on every level in one day.

John the Libertarian on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

So I guess now that the election is past we are just going to have a scandal a day?

Fezzik on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

A scandal a day keeps the doctor away…those doctors that are left.

Nick_Angel on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

“But that’s okay, we’ll still keep guzzling down your manchowder as fast as you can bring it!”

The MSM

Gator Country on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

DOJ secretly seized two months of Assoicated Press phone records?

ASSOICATED?!!!

Dudes! SPELL CHECK!

I mean, I know you’re in a hurry to get this one out there, but come on! Be professional!

pilamaye on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

SO MUCH NEWS TODAY!

Abby Adams on May 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Time for Obama to do another Sgt Schultz routine …

I know nothing!

darwin on May 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Why do all of Obama’s agencies keep undermining him?! He’s trying so hard!

commodore on May 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

I wonder if that AP chick who questioned Obama at the joint presser this morning had already gotten wind of this. She didn’t exactly go easy on Dear Leader(at least by the media’s standards).

Doughboy on May 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Me suspects Benghazi is the real deal and these are distractions. But we need to hound them on everything.

Looks like I’m resubscribing to podcasts of the Mark Levin Show…

ParisParamus on May 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

If I’m anywhere in this admin and have damning info, I’m jumpin’ off this bus. They may try to run me over with it, but better to take that chance than to go over the cliff it seems destined for.

questionmark on May 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

So….what was going on in the House between April and May of last year?

Zaggs on May 13, 2013 at 4:54 PM

On May 3, 2012, Congressman Issa released a letter to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that included a draft of a resolution to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt.

Fezzik on May 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Richard Nixon’s “Plumbers” seem miniscule compared to the Obama operation.

portlandon on May 13, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Maybe the AP were Tea Partiers?

65droptop on May 13, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Obama: There’s no where where.

profitsbeard on May 13, 2013 at 4:59 PM

The Administration Press may give Obama back the knee pads he gave them in celebration of his 2008 victory.

I always thought that Obama and Holder were admirers of Hugo.

redguy on May 13, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Maybe they threatened Roberts’ family too.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

You’re not the only one who’s done some conjecturing.

This is the Gangster Government we’re talking about.

INC on May 13, 2013 at 4:59 PM

C’mon out trolls and tell us how Bush tapped phones without warrants !

burrata on May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Let Americans be killed, no big deal
Let the IRS harass conservatives, no big deal
Sell guns to the Mexican drug cartels, no big deal

But do not, do not stick your nose into the liberal presses business…

right2bright on May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

So what’s the over/under the press will still kiss Obama’s butt?

batter on May 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM

i tried answering this question and i really don’t know how.

phatfawzi on May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

DoJ= Department of Just Us.

BobMbx on May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

DOJ secretly seized two months of Associated Press phone records?

Well, that couldn’t have been very difficult, considering that AP is a state-run propaganda outlet, operated out of the basement of the White House.

Pork-Chop on May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

When you have the Associated Press (not the ASSOICATED PRESS!) running a story like this, you get the distinct impression that slowly, surely, gradually the mainstream media is finally falling back on these journalistic laurels that used to be known as integrity, honesty, truth.

Or maybe they are now getting as sick of the antics of this administration as the rest of us are!

pilamaye on May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

You all love me, you all voted for me…..

–BHO at WHCA dinner 2010…

ted c on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

You created this monster, AP. Obama thinks he can do this because you turned a blind eye to his radical associations. The LA Times sat on a damning tape during 08. You swept Fast and Furious under the rug even after a BP agent was killed along with 200 Mexicans. You laughed off Benghazi. You ignored the IRS scandal. You never let anyone touch Obama. Well here’s the Tyrant you created. You dropped the ball, and now we’re all stuck with this fool for another 3 years. Thanks.

Weight of Glory on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Maybe THIS is the reason MSM reporters have begun baring their fangs. Maybe rumors of this outrageous POS administration intrusion have been circulating for a couple of weeks.

wyntre9 on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Obama to OSU grads.

Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.

aquaviva on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Bushes fault

burserker on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

When and for whom with Obama Biden grant the first presidential pardons?

Rich H on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

LOL, um, wow. Just wow.

Midas on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

AP…hmmm…the same peple who appointed fact-checkers for Sarah Palin’s book ?

burrata on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Me suspects Benghazi is the real deal and these are distractions. But we need to hound them on everything.

Looks like I’m resubscribing to podcasts of the Mark Levin Show…

ParisParamus on May 13, 2013 at 4:57 PM

No, it the whole list of items, from voter intimidation, gun-running, lack of leadership, deceiving the public…it’s all coming together, finally.

right2bright on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

I’m laughing.

Cindy Munford on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

These are the guys Rubio, McCain, Flake and Grahamnesty want us to trust to secure the border.

Mark1971 on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

DOJ secretly seized two months of Associated Press phone records

Hey, Barry! You think there is any THERE here?!!!!

pilamaye on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Yet another scandal for Milhouse Soetoro. Next thing you know he’ll start chatting with the presidential paintings up there.

smiley on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

hey AP lie down with dogs wake up with fleas. So how do you like being treated like the Tea Party/Republicans/Any American Right of Center? Hmmmm wonder if this information was used to intimidate AP reporters into silencing anything unfavorable to the Obama Admim in an election year? Not really necessary was it? They NEVER cover anything unfavorable to this administration.

neyney on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

WTF? Seriously, it’s like every day something new appears; this administration is coming apart at the seams.

Bishop on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Flood the Zone.

They’re just turning up the noise so you can’t hear Ambassador Stevens groaning from his grave.

ted c on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Tingles must be in a coma about now…

katy on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

That’s no way to treat low information journalism, getting down on their knees to push a “what difference does it make” meme.

They still will be back on their knees tomorrow. Journalism schools teach them to be no different than trained little dogs.

MNHawk on May 13, 2013 at 5:03 PM

This must also be the Republicans fault…

catmman on May 13, 2013 at 5:03 PM

NYT alternate headline: GOP Cheers as Nation’s Image Falters

JackForce on May 13, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Holder, Sibelius and Nappolitano are the perfect capos for Obama.

None is better than Boehner, though. Issa is a big moron too.

The patsies at the senate are beneath eunuchy contempt.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Right wing sideshow.

El_Terrible on May 13, 2013 at 5:03 PM

aquaviva on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Ha. His timing was perfect.

katy on May 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

What in the world is going on? Has the press finally decided to report on something? That defies belief. What could they be distracting us from if they are willing to report on this?

samuelrylander on May 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

3 strikes, you’re out?

JackForce on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Yeah, but this is *way* more than three strikes.

Midas on May 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

When you have the Associated Press (not the ASSOICATED PRESS!) running a story like this, you get the distinct impression that slowly, surely, gradually the mainstream media is finally falling back on these journalistic laurels that used to be known as integrity, honesty, truth.

Or maybe they are now getting as sick of the antics of this administration as the rest of us are!

pilamaye on May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

“Journalistic laurels?” HA! That’s a good one.

Even money on the latter.

Myron Falwell on May 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

This Benghazi story must really have them spooked. Look at all the criminal acts that are being offered up as distractions.

Two or three more breaking stories and it will amount to a full scale political assault on the administration designed to paralyze his ability to govern.

(I could’t fit the sarc tag I needed on this small screen)

DanMan on May 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

more cover for Benghazi

burserker on May 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Heh. New York Times headline tomorrow.

Republicans looks to score political off administration abusing us journalists.

But you won’t let them, will you JournoListers.

MNHawk on May 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Leftists are never democratic, liberal or progressive.

They are always charlatanic tyrannical law breakers, for power and riches.
They are communists. Communist organizers.

Obama repesents them well.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 4:55 PM

redguy on May 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

bengazi is about the re-election fraud.
the IRS 501c4 scandal is about the re-election fraud.
and THIS is almost surely at its heart about that also.

t8stlikchkn on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Flood the Zone.

They’re just turning up the noise so you can’t hear Ambassador Stevens groaning from his grave.

ted c on May 13, 2013 at 5:02 PM

*This*. All of this is no coincidence.

Midas on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Obama just learned this today at…..3 pm, yeah, that’s it..

ToddPA on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Quite frankly, if I was a liberal I’d say they deserve it. However, since I’m not, this is completely crazy stuff. How many more scandals can break this week with this corrupt administration?
House of cards is starting to fall… and quickly.

tyketto on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Just a shot across the bow to let all the other “journalists” know that they are not safe from “the most transparent administration evah.”

Watch the media lapdogs line up to spew the official talking points like good little b!tches now.

Goebbels would be proud.

glockomatic on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Political Points…oh for an edit button…

MNHawk on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

…aaaaannnndd…BOOM goes the dynamite.

Nessuno on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Obama: There is no

here

here.

profitsbeard on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Can we play what if Bush had done this?

tom daschle concerned on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Barack Milhouse O’bama.

What’s so idiotic about Dear Leader and Holder doing this is that al-AP has been one of their biggest Kneepads for the past 4 1/2 years; after O’bama murdered bin Laden with his bare hands, the Associated Press promptly did one of their famous “polls”. In this particular one they sampled nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans to achieve the result they wanted-a miniscule 5 point uptick in O’bama’s Job Approval after that epic event.

Del Dolemonte on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

On Drudge right now:

When asked about the DOJ secretly seizing phone records of the Associated Press, Preznit Obama said “I first heard about this next Friday”.

Bishop on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

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.

Well, yeah, that was the point wasn’t it.

Welcome to our world, AP.

Curtiss on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

The Nixonianism is strong with this administration.

Resist We Much on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Like Bobby Kennedy going after the mob after they delivered Chicago and Illinois …. Who has the ice time for another bourbon

Tilly on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

…aaaaannnndd…BOOM goes the dynamite.

Nessuno on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Thanks for that huge laugh. Seriously….

tyketto on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

He is King ya know.

CW on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Today is a hell of a day so far.

Missy on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

All I can hear in my head is Connie Francis, “Who’s Sorry Now?”

Whoo hoo, the screechin’ and caterwaulin’ will now commence as THEIR ox is being gored.

waterytart on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

C’mon out trolls and tell us how Bush tapped phones without warrants !

burrata on May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

It doesn’t sound like they were actually tapping the phones – they just got hold of the usage records, which give such information as the time and duration of the calls, as well as the numbers that were called.

Having said that though, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least, with this gang in government, if they were conducting warrantless wiretaps, and at more places than the AP.

Gator Country on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Obama to OSU grads.

Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.
aquaviva on May 13, 2013 at 5:01 PM

i never heard those voices in my head. but i do read about that stuff actually happening on the front page of my newspaper news agrigation cite on the interwebs

t8stlikchkn on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Here’s the BIG QUESTION… Seized records from WHERE?

Are they admitting they’re recording everything from everyone all the time? If so, let’s see the WH records from 9/11/12 for two months beyond.

katy on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Yeah, but this is *way* more than three strikes.

Midas on May 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM

True, but it was more in context of the public’s attention span.

JackForce on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Let’s make a list of the agencies and individuals associated with the POS and his administration caught with spying on private citizens and/or lying over the past few days.

1 – Nanny Bloomberg forced to apologize when his publication is accused of spying on its 300,000 clients

2 – IRS accused of investigating Tea Party groups

3 – Sibelius accused of strongarming medical and pharmaceutical execs to fund ACA programs

4 – DOS accused of intimidating whistleblowers

wyntre9 on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Drip, drip, drip

crosspatch on May 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

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