Thursday, June 20, 2013

AP CEO Alleges DoJ Intimidation Of Sources By Seizure Of Journalists' Phone Records

Regular readers know I quote as little as possible from an AP story to avoid being harassed. So here is as little as possible from this story:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department violated its own rules when it secretly seized records for thousands of phone calls to and from journalists for The Associated Press as part of a leak investigation, the head of the company said Wednesday.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt told a luncheon gathering of journalists and others that the seizure was not only excessively broad, but that the department failed to notify AP in advance of the subpoena, as normally required. Department rules say a delay in notification is justified only if needed to protect the integrity of its investigation. Pruitt said that justification was unfathomable in this case.

Notwithstanding any fundamental guarantees to the contrary, any government has the raw power to manipulate the press's coverage of that government's actions. At some point, if the government exercises a sufficiently draconian influence (e.g., implicitly threatening to reveal a news organization's undisclosed sources to the public or to law enforcement, or implicitly threatening harassment of the undisclosed sources themselves), the press is no longer free to do its job, and the public lacks the ability to obtain information necessary to make intelligent decisions as it must in a free society. Are we there yet in America? I don't know, but it certainly seems to me that this seizure of journalists' communications records is a big step in a very wrong direction.

Has anybody noticed this is happening in a Democratic administration? "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss..."

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