OBAMA’S “WAR ON LEAKS”
The following is the 12th in a series of excerpts from my New York Times bestseller “Stonewalled,” which recounts the government intrusions of my computers. More excerpts to follow. Links to previous excerpts are below.
Four months after Number One first identified my computer intru- sions, I’m watching the news. It’s May 13, 2013, and there’s a break- ing story that sets off a pang of familiarity. I instinctively feel that it’s related to my own situation. It’s not so much that the details are the same—they’re not. But there’s something about the story line: a U.S. government entity secretly, audaciously, reaching into the private communications of news reporters.
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The news is that the Justice Department had seized the records of twenty phone lines used by employees of the news organization Associ-=ated Press. AP says the records are from personal home and cell phone numbers belonging to editors and reporters, office numbers of various AP bureaus, and AP phones used in the press quarters in the House of Repre- sentatives, where members of the media have office space. It’s unheard-of. Why did the government take this drastic measure? To try to catch and prosecute the government source who provided information for a 2012 AP story about a foiled underwear bomb plot. The Justice Department had issued the subpoenas to telephone companies but granted itself an exception to its own normal practice in deciding not to provide advance notice of its intentions to AP. Advance notice would have given AP the chance to challenge the move in court. Only now, months after the fact, is the Justice Department disclosing its controversial subpoenas to the news outlet’s managers. Incensed AP officials publicly attack the action as a “massive and unprecedented intrusion by the Department of Justice into the news-gathering activities of the Associated Press.”It’s perhaps the first time the Obama administration feels the sting of meaningful criticism from such a wide-ranging group of news media. They’re calling it Obama’s War on Leaks. On May 14, 2013, a coalition of more than fifty news organizations, including ABC, CNN, NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Re- porters Committee for Freedom of the Press writes a strongly worded letter of objection to Holder. It reads in part:
The nation’s news media were stunned to learn yesterday of the Department of Justice’s broad subpoena of telephone records belonging to The Associated Press. In the thirty years since the Department issued guidelines governing its subpoena practice as it relates to phone records from journalists, none of us can remember an instance where such an overreaching dragnet for newsgathering materials was deployed by the Department, particularly without notice to the affected reporters or an opportunity to seek judicial review. The scope of this action calls into question the very integrity of Department of Justice policies to- ward the press and its ability to balance, on its own, its police powers against the First Amendment rights of the news media and the public’s interest in reporting on all manner of government conduct, including matters touching on national security which lie at the heart of this case.
The Justice Department responds to the growing privacy concerns by the media with a statement saying that it “takes seriously the First Amendment right to freedom of the press” and that Holder “understands the concerns that have been raised by the media and has initiated a reevaluation of existing Department policies and procedures.”
Support the Attkisson v. DOJ/FBI Fourth Amendment Litigation Fund to fight the government computer intrusions
How does this story fit into my circumstances? It’s a puzzle I’m trying to sort out but a lot of the pieces are missing.
To Be Continued…
[hr]Read excerpt #1 here: The Computer Intrusions: Up at Night
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