Print 108 comment(s) - last by inperfectdarkn.. on May 17 at 2:52 PM

  (Source: Fits News)
Government hunts for source of leaks inside its ranks, tramples freedom of press

A federal judge approves sweeping subpoenas of over 20 phone numbers associated with a top national journalist organization, hunting for the source of government leaks to the press.  No, this isn't a tale of Soviet Russia (or Putin-era Russia); it's the story that's breaking here in the "land of the free".

I. Big Brother is Watching the Press

In an outraged letter to U.S. Attorney General (AG) Eric Holder, the Associated Press, one of the nation's largest news organizations, accuses the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) of a potentially serious violation of freedom of the press.  According to the letter from Gary Pruitt, records from 20 phone lines -- including personal phones of AP editors/columnists and AP business phone numbers in New York; Hartford, Connecticut; and Washington -- were subpoenaed in a "massive and unprecedented" attempt to monitor on the press.

Mr. Pruitt writes [PDF]:

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.
We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP's constitutional rights to gather and report the news.

He demanded that the DOJ return all records collected and destroy all copies of them.

Associate Press
President Obama's Justice Department stands accused of spying on AP offices and staffers.
[Image Source: Getty Images]

The DOJ defended its actions in a statement, commenting:

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.

The AP was not told why the records were subpoenaed, but it is aware that some of the employees whose records were subpoenaed were involved in a story in which an undisclosed government official leaked an account of a foiled May 2012 bomb plot on an aircraft flying into the U.S.

Eric Holder
Fresh off outrage over his support of drone death strikes on Americans on U.S. soil, AG Eric Holder has another controversy to contend with. [Image Source: AP]

Analysts say that the Obama administration has pushed the limits farther than any administration before it in hunting for leakers in its ranks with surveillance and subpoenas.

II. The Hunt for Leakers

In this case there has been no signal yet that the feds wiretapped the reporters in question.  However, some top politicians are already questioning the Obama administration's "Big Brother" tactics.  Comments Michael Steel, spokesperson for Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the Speaker of the House, "The First Amendment is first for a reason.  If the Obama administration is going after reporters' phone records, they better have a damned (sic) good explanation."

President Obama
President Obama has been frustrated with leakers in his ranks. [Image Source: AP]
Ben Wizner, the head of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, also sounded off against the spying, commenting:

Obtaining a broad range of telephone records in order to ferret out a government leaker is an unacceptable abuse of power.  Freedom of the press is a pillar of our democracy, and that freedom often depends on confidential communications between reporters and their sources.

The development even made some members of the President's own party queasy.  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Verm.) commented, "I am very troubled by these allegations and want to hear the government's explanation.  The burden is always on the government when they go after private information -- especially information regarding the press or its confidential sources.  I want to know more about this case, but on the face of it, I am concerned that the government may not have met that burden."

The Obama administration has dramatically increased warrantless surveillance in the U.S. on American citizens over the last five years in the name of fighting "crime" and "terrorism".  However, it came under scrutiny this last week when it was revealed that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted members of the Tea Party and other pro-change groups with tax audits.  It should be interesting to see how the Attorney General and President Obama justify these latest actions in weeks to come.

Sources: AP [PDF], ACLU

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RE: Impeach
By Samus on 5/14/2013 11:12:26 AM , Rating: -1
Back on topic:

George Bush (you know the one) set a whole new standard for impeachable offenses for the President.

What I mean is, if he didn't get impeached for what he did, it'll be virtually impossible to impeach any president moving forward.

I still can't believe the domino effect that lead to Bill Clinton's impeachment. When you consider all things, he wasn't a bad president, he just screwed up lying to us, deregulating the banks, and Kosovo didn't go over well either...

RE: Impeach
By Nfarce on 5/14/2013 11:18:53 AM , Rating: 5
I am in no way defending the Bush administration's actions in a lot of things (thanks for the TSA, Bush), but if you are referring to Iraq, you need to go after all the Democrats as well who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, saw the case for WMDs, and voted for war approval along with all the other regular Democrat Congresspeople (except Democrat John Kerry of course who "voted for the war before he voted against it").

In any event, Obama's power grab and arrogant ego (and the cronies he surrounds himself with) makes Bush look as benign as Ford.

RE: Impeach
By inperfectdarkness on 5/16/2013 3:41:49 AM , Rating: 3
I saw it coming back in 2008. The American public had been so frustrated with Bush Jr's reign that it was willing to virtually dispense with the constitutional principles of what makes America such a great country--by electing a deluge of social-reformers.

Never mind the fact that social reforms usually are inversely related to economic prosperity. I will forever remember the videos of people who were voting because they wanted "some o' dat Obama money".

Sadly, I can think of only 2 things that the Obama administration has done correctly:

1. Net Neutrality
2. DADT repeal & gay rights

#1 is of such dire importance that it almost makes the hardship of enduring Obama worth it. Almost. The GOP platform sure as sh** wasn't going to stand up for net neutrality.

Who do I vote for again? I'm pro net-neutrality, pro-choice, anti-gun-control and anti-social-programs. Thanks a lot, bipartisan system.

RE: Impeach
By Ammohunt on 5/16/2013 2:26:01 PM , Rating: 3
1. Net Neutrality

This is good for sure GOP is on the wring side of this argument.

2. DADT repeal & gay rights

DADT repeal will in the long run decimate the military in branches that actually fight on the ground. it has nothing to do with gays not being good fighters and everything to do with unit cohesion.

RE: Impeach
By inperfectdarkness on 5/17/2013 12:43:09 AM , Rating: 2
Unit cohesion will not suffer because of DADT. It will actually suffer more from allowing women in combat--if only due to pregnancies. A pregnant servicemember means that the rest of the unit has to carry the weight of deployments.

I know of virtually no one in the military who has a problem with practically anyone serving, provided he/she carries his/her equal share of the burden. Unit cohesion will not suffer because of DADT repeal. Sexual harrassment is still sexual harrassment--regardless of gender.

RE: Impeach
By Ammohunt on 5/17/2013 1:23:06 PM , Rating: 2
I agree there should not be coed combat units women and men should be segregated. DADT will most definitely destroy unit cohesion. Any and all differences take away from the solid cohesive unit model. Race is the common example use to defend DADT. It isn't remotely the same as sexual preference and to this day soldiers divide themselves by race more often than not.

RE: Impeach
By inperfectdarkness on 5/17/2013 2:52:24 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't effect combat effectiveness. In the modern DOD, you don't have to worry about someone providing fire support for you because you're a different race than the guy in that unit. You don't have to worry about your buddy in the foxhole not covering your 6 because of "ethnic tensions". If such tensions did exist, MEO would be hearing about it in very short order. Things which impact combat effectiveness stick out like a sore thumb.

Frankly, ever 4-star and service secretary interviewed by congress said repealing DADT wasn't going to affect combat effectiveness--and I completely agree. By extension, that also means that unit cohesion won't suffer either--because combat effectiveness doesn't last when unit cohesion goes out the window.

Stop being an alarmist. I really don't care if my Sgt is checking out my ass in the bathroom; as long as he's competent enough to keep the enemy OFF it. As I said, sexual harassment is still sexual harassment. Genders of the involved parties doesn't change anything.

RE: Impeach
By 91TTZ on 5/14/2013 12:22:52 PM , Rating: 3
Clinton lied while under oath, that's what got him in trouble. If it wasn't for that, the whole scandal would have only been an embarrassment.

RE: Impeach
By Shadowself on 5/14/13, Rating: -1
RE: Impeach
By Shadowself on 5/14/2013 9:29:11 PM , Rating: 1
I meant to add this clarification...

Think of it this way as a purely hypothetical situation...

Let's say I killed someone by cutting their head off with a guillotine -- one single, clean stroke.

Then under oath during a sworn deposition with regard to something unrelated to that act the local prosecutor asks me if I murdered someone. My lawyer asks the prosecutor to define what he means by "murder someone". The prosecutor then stupidly defines murder as "shooting, repeatedly stabbing, or poisoning someone". Then under that definition my lawyer instructs me to answer the question honestly. I can then say, per that definition, that I had never murdered someone. Per the definition I did not lie under oath.

Virtually everyone on the planet would believe that I had lied (including me!). However, per the U.S. legal system, I had not.

RE: Impeach
By StormyKnight on 5/15/2013 4:07:47 AM , Rating: 2
Clinton was actually disbarred for 5 years or more.

RE: Impeach
By Just Tom on 5/15/2013 12:24:54 PM , Rating: 4
The judge in Clinton v. Jones found Clinton in contempt of court for intentionally false testimony. Sounds like lying under oath to me.

RE: Impeach
By MrBlastman on 5/14/2013 2:54:02 PM , Rating: 5
I still can't believe the domino effect that lead to Bill Clinton's impeachment. When you consider all things, he wasn't a bad president, he just screwed up lying to us, deregulating the banks, and Kosovo didn't go over well either...

So being a liar is an acceptable, model quality of a sitting president?

Let's see, you forgot a few things...

What about Vince Foster and all the other people that "dissapeared" while Clinton was in office? "Oh, he just died on a park bench!" ... Without any footsteps or evidence of him making his way there.

What about Osama Bin Laden and our opportunity to take him out--thus avoiding countless lives lost years later?

What about the National Homeownership Strategy that encouraged Creative Lending... sponsored by Clinton?

What about their repeated ignorance of foreign affairs and inability to properly respond to them? Slick Willy had this problem and as we now see from Benghazi... his wife Hillary did, too. How many lives have to be lost before we measure their incompetence with this alone?

Domino effect? He /just/ screwed up by lying to us? Really? You see it like that?

Unless you're being sarcastic and I really hope you are.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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