Justice Department Puts the Press in Its Sights

Not only is the Obama Administration dealing with the Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party groups, they now have another scandal emerging. The Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday that the Justice Department (DOJ) had obtained phone records of journalists who work for the news organization:

The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.

In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown, but more than 100 journalists work in the offices where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

The Obama Administration has been trying to crackdown on whistleblowers and leaks to the press, and it appears that this exactly what’s going on here. The DOJ is investigating a leak to the AP that stems from a story dealing with a terrorist plot in Yemen that the new organization ran last May.

But such a broad targeting of the press, which appears to have been carried out without a warrant and the AP was notified after the fact, causes concern and it raises many questions, and this time the press may actually be interested in pursuing it now that the constitutionally guaranteed right to the freedom of the press has been crossed by this administration.

And not only are their obvious constitutional ramifications with both the First and Fourth Amendments, the Obama Administration’s incompetence has reached a new high. Americans are constantly told by President Obama that government can supposedly do all these great things and that we should be open to it doing more, but just glancing at the news in the last week shows that big government leads to scandals, intimidation towards political enemies, and nearly constant threats toward liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who was found in contempt of the House of Representatives last year due to his failure to provide documents dealing with the DOJ’s Fast and Furious scandal, will appear tomorrow before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. You can bet that he will be peppered with questions about this latest cloud over the Justice Department.


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