Well, we think it’s fair to say that reporters at the Associated Press are none too happy with word that the government secured two months of phone records from the world’s largest wire service for some murky leak investigation.
“Yeah, there’s a bit of a freak out,” an AP reporter tells us. “Clearly, I need to know whether it’s specific to me in any way. They haven’t told us specifically whose phones are on the list.”
In an article on the seizures posted by the wire service, their top executive, Gary Pruitt, called it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.
When they found out about it, AP officials dashed off a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding the records be returned and copies destroyed. The pages contain information on 20 phone lines with work and home numbers for reporters, incoming and outgoing calls and the length of the calls.
“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,” Pruitt said.
In other words, the feds are obviously conducting a witch hunt to figure out who the AP is talking to. And what might that be? Well, it would appear that the feds are investigating leaks at May 7, 2012 AP report which disclosed that the CIA had prevented an Al Qaeda plot to down an airplane headed for the U.S.
Or you could read it this way: that Obama is pissed that his administration is getting hammered, and is trying to intimidate government officials into shutting up. This would be at least the seventh time the Obama administration has looked into leaks to the media–more, apparently, than any other president.
Attorney General Eric Holder has recused himself from the investigation, but defended the probe as justified in the face of what he called one of the most damaging leaks he has seen, according to the Washington Post.
“This was a very serious leak — a very, very serious leak,” Holder told reporters. “This is among the top two or three serious leaks that I’ve ever seen.” It put the American people at risk.”
Meanwhile, Fox is quoting Mark Corallo, chief spokesman for another Bush attorney general, John Ashcroft, claling the secret probe “unprecedented.”
“The normal course of business is very narrow and very tailored to a particular individual’s phone records,” Corallo said. “The idea that they would do two months – grab everything – in several bureaus is truly stunning and disgraceful.”