theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

May 15, 2013

AP right to be angry about seized phone records


theadanews.com

Ada —

The Obama Justice Department is a wonder. It is a frightening wonder, but a wonder nonetheless. Attorney General Eric Holder, ever eager to give terrorists their day in civilian court and so protective of their rights, has no qualms about stomping on the constitutional rights of the press.

 This week it was revealed that the Justice Department secretly obtained Associated Press reporters’ personal and business phone records. According to the AP, the government seized records of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to its reporters in April and May 2012. Though the government hasn’t said, speculation is that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation trying to determine who provided information contained in an AP story about a foiled terror plot that was published last year.

 AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt has demanded the phone records be returned and all copies of them be destroyed. In a letter to Attorney General Holder, Pruitt said, “I am writing to object in the strongest possible terms to a massive and unprecedented intrusion...into the newsgathering activities of The Associated Press...There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters.”

 Pruitt goes on to say the records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources not just in one story but in all stories over the two month period of time in which the records were seized. 

 The Justice Department has the right to investigate journalists but only under certain limited circumstances; and only in the most unusual cases does it not have to alert the targeted news gathering institution first.

 Before becoming president, then Sen. Barack Obama dismissed restrictions the Constitution demands by advising, “...it says what the state and federal government can’t do to you; it doesn’t say what it should do for you.”

 Clearly, the president’s Justice Department has gotten the hint. It, too, cares very little about the Constitutional restrictions it is sworn to uphold.

 — The Ada News