The Hendricks County Flyer
Fri May 17, 2013, 02:07 PM EDT
Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.
This amounts to spying on an American news organization -- common practice in dictatorships but scary conduct in a democratic system that prizes the public value of an independent watchdog press.
What makes this case so egregious is the Justice Department went about securing an array of phone records from at least 20 AP phone lines, including reporters and editors personal cellphones, without allowing the news agency an opportunity to object.
Furthermore, it violates the department’s 30-year-old subpoena guidelines requiring it to make “every reasonable effort to obtain through alternative means” information that might be included in the media’s phone records.
The Justice Department’s explanation that it complied with national security laws, and limited its review of last year’s April and May records to the phone numbers of the callers and not the content of the calls, is thin cover for this affront to the free press clause of the First Amendment.
The motive for wanting to know who talked to the AP is clear but it is also irresponsible. Justice Department sleuths were hell-bent on hunting down the confidential sources for the May 7, 2012, AP story about a CIA operation to stop an airliner bomb plot in Yemen.
Why this obsession with nailing the leakers? The story was an embarrassment to the president, who had assured the American people there was no credible terrorist threat last May, around the time of the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The AP held the story for several days when told by the White House it would interfere with intelligence gathering. But after assurances any national security risk had passed, the news agency published the story. The Justice Department hound dogs were close behind.
You may be tempted to dismiss as gratuitous wailing the news media’s concern over this serious breach of the constitutional wall between government and the press. But the chilling consequences of the Justice Department’s overzealous intrusiveness could well impact your ability to know what your government is doing or not doing on your behalf.
Whistleblowers and confidential sources critical to keeping the government honest and transparent are sure to be discouraged from sharing what the public has a right to know if the government can cavalierly snoop into the work product of the press.
The Obama Administration owes Americans the public assurance that its pursuit of leakers will no longer extend to secretly culling through the news media’s private records.
— Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.
December 7, 2013
When I woke up Saturday morning, I gave a customary online scan of Friday’s sports, mainly for a recap of the Pacers’ home game against Milwaukee.
November 18, 2013
Most people recall where they were upon hearing significant news in their life, whether it was positive or negative. I remember where I was when I heard now-former Butler basketball coach Brad Stevens was going to the Boston Celtics.
November 12, 2013
Having gone to a football school in the heart of basketball country, I was never around soccer in my youth, and thus haven’t been a soccer guy in adulthood.
November 5, 2013
I hate to say it, but I'm afraid we've seen this before.
October 29, 2013
There have been a lot of big games played in Indianapolis, none bigger than the Colts' unforgettable win over New England in the AFC championship seven years ago.
While next Monday's visit from Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos won't eclipse that monumental event, there is no doubt that the city has never and will never experience another night like No. 18's return.
October 17, 2013
There is no denying that Twitter has provided a once-impossible glimpse into the minds of sports figures. It has also infinitely increased the ability of those figures to make absolute fools of themselves.
September 18, 2013
July 20, 2013
An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
May 22, 2013
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
An Emirates Boeing 777 plane tilted sideways as it tried to land at the Birmingham airport during strong wind gusts in the United Kingdom on Thursday.
December 6, 2013
© 2013 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. ·
CNHI Classified Advertising Network ·
CNHI News Service
Associated Press content © 2013. All rights reserved. AP content may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Our site is powered by Zope. Some parts of our site may require
you to download the Flash Player Plugin.
Terms and Conditions
Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN
8109 Kingston St., Suite 500