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  (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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Impeach most of them
By WinstonSmith on 5/15/2013 10:42:16 AM , Rating: 2
U.S. military oath:

"I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same..."

Note that one doesn't swear to protect the U.S., but to protect its Constitution. Defense of the physical U.S. is performed simply because its continued existence protects the Constitution. Also, note the very important "allegiance" portion. Allegiance is defined as "true and faithful obedience of the subject," in this case obedience to the Constitution of the U.S.

Presidential oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Nothing nearly as direct about obedience to it, is there?

It has been a perceived internal threat, real or imagined, from various wars that have been interpreted to give the President wide latitude in violating the Constitution as an emergency measure. Examples like the Alien and Sedition Act, the Sedition Act of 1918, and the Japanese American interment were obvious violations of the Bill of Rights, but war gave them the appearance of legitimacy at the time. In hindsight, all of the politicians involved should have been impeached.

We are now claimed to be in an "war" with no measurable end . Thus, innumerable violations of the Bill of Rights have been written into law unchallenged and many more will eventually follow, year after year after year.

If you think the occasional revelations about illegal government behavior are just the tip of a gigantic iceberg, history indicates that you are most likely correct. It makes no difference whatsoever what political party is involved. They are merely different sides of the same coin, owned by everyone but the people who vote for them on most important topics (i.e., corporate owned), using hot button topics like "guns, gays, and god" to bring the ignorant faithful to the polls. On this reality, Google "Where the People Don't Rule by Fred Reed" and read what you find.




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














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