Government obtains multitude of AP phone records in probe
by Mark Sherman, Associated Press
May 14, 2013 12:48 AM | 811 views | 3 3 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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 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.
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WASHINGTON — 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.

In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.

“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. 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,” Pruitt said.

The government would not say why it sought the records. Officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP’s source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an “unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information.”

Prosecutors have sought phone records from reporters before, but the seizure of records from such a wide array of AP offices, including general AP switchboards numbers and an office-wide shared fax line, is unusual.

In the letter notifying the AP, which was received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt’s letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.
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AP not Patriots?
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May 14, 2013
There could be evil doers calling or texting each other using AP phones! This justice department investigation was done for the public good and safety, just exactly as you have been reporting since 9/12/2001.

What's that? It's not so awesome when it's done to you? Why does the AP hate America? Somebody needs to investigate the AP for Communists or Terrorists or whatever we call "them" these days.

The AP must be have some Saudi investors somewhere in their wood pile! Fox News will find them!!! Get 'em Sarah and Ted!
Samuel Adams
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May 14, 2013
You'd think this would show them what the Obama admin. is all about, but they are undoubtedly too dumb to make the connection.

How do they think other entities encroached by the power of the federal govt. feel? Usually they make light of it, until it's them. Now they are outraged? If they'd done their jobs to begin with, they would not have been violated.
FROM TEXAS
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May 14, 2013
I’m just so surprised the lap dog media is probably making this up Czar Obama is the most transparent administration ever just asks him. Aren’t these the same people that don’t use the term illegal alien anymore? Maybe the illegal aliens are just job terrorist they only take jobs that despite out of work Americans are still trying to get.
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