Skip to comments.US seizure of journalist records called 'chilling'
Posted on 06/19/2013 7:19:42 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
The US government's secret seizure of Associated Press phone records had a "chilling effect" on newsgathering by the agency and other news organizations, AP's top executive said Wednesday.
"Some longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking with us," AP president and chief executive Gary Pruitt said in a speech to the National Press Club.
"In some cases, government employees we once checked in with regularly will no longer speak to us by phone. Others are reluctant to meet in person ... This chilling effect on newsgathering is not just limited to AP.
"Journalists from other news organizations have personally told me that it has intimidated both official and nonofficial sources from speaking to them as well."
Pruitt spoke one month after the US news agency revealed that it had been notified after the fact that the US Justice Department had secret subpoenas of two months of phone records from its news operations.
The AP has said US authorities appeared to have sought out the records as part of a criminal investigation into leaked information contained in a May 2012 AP story about a foiled terror plot.
Pruitt, who previously called the seizure "a massive and unprecedented intrusion" into newsgathering, said the Justice Department "violated its own rules" on how it handles investigations of leaks to news media.
He said the collection of records pertaining to more than 100 journalists was "an overbroad and sloppy fishing expedition" and failed to follow procedures on notification.
Pruitt said that authorities maintained that by notifying the AP ahead of the sweep "it would have tipped off the leaker" but argued "that kind of reasoning would apply in every single case."
This rationale would mean news organizations would never know when its records are being obtained, news sources would become less willing to speak and "the public will only know what the government wants them to know."
The Justice Department has told the AP "that our phone records have been and will continue to be walled off, protected and used for no other purpose other than the leak investigation," Pruitt said.
"We appreciate these assurances. But that does not excuse what they did. We need to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The AP chief said the US administration should reaffirm the right of advance notice to news organizations, and use the courts to adjudicate any disputes on whether certain records are needed.
He also called for a "federal shield law with teeth" to ensure that journalists are not prosecuted for doing their jobs.
"We do not dispute that the government has the right to pursue those who leak classified information," he said.
But he argued that "no one in this country should ever be prosecuted for committing journalism."
Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder said the leak which prompted the seizure of journalist phone records was a "very serious" matter which "puts the American people at risk."
Pruitt said Wednesday however that the AP waited five days before publishing the article, until after it had been assured by US officials that "the national security risk had passed.
The US administration under President Barack Obama has been aggressive in pursuing leaks of secret government information.
Authorities have said they had opened a probe into Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked details about a cast US government electronic surveillance program.
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was sentenced in January to two and a half years in prison for leaking the name of a secret agent implicated in harsh interrogations of Al-Qaeda suspects.
First Amendment is Protected by the Second Amendment. Exercise your Rights, Pruitt.
It’ not like you were actually reporting any relevant news anyway, AP. Maybe if you were this wouldn’t have happened.
The US press is either too corrupt or afraid to print this article or to express these sentiments. Isn’t the article from a French source.
What evidence is there that AP’s records had been accessed or they had been wiretapped?
Isn’t it a bit convenient that the ONLY thing preventing this from being solely about targeting conservative groups are this AP thing and now spurious random claims of “liberal groups also being targeted”???
After all, it was “the letter” (US Atty. Machin) that broke the AP supposed incident. I’ve seen no proof it occurred at all.
Hey Pruitt, You helped him get in now STFU and live with it OR fight!
Fairly easily solved. Have all “investigative journalists” arrange to get their leads from the “authorized government leaker” list. It makes it all so much easier .... no warrants, no unexpected information leaked, stories (propaganda) can be pre-written and just handed to the journalist saving errors in grammar and content. What pseudo-journalist from CNN, NBC, AP, Times, etc. could turn down an easy slam dunk like this.
Minus the MSM completes your almost perfect equation. Who knows, getting the press shutdow may have been the first order of business.
Obama is planning something against his political enemies. The DHS arms race, the NSA spying, labeling your political opponents as terrorists, the press crackdown. Historically, all these are things dictators do right before seizing absolute power.
Bammy is waging Jihad on America.
What would the Dictator have done to the AP if they were conservatives? Lined them up and shot them?
They voted for him.
And they would do it again.
This was all a charade. In May 2012 someone in the National Security Council or the White House leaked detailed descriptions of secret operations being conducted against Iran and terrorist targets by the U.S., Israel and the U.K. Since the leaks tended to paint Obama as strong on national security the news media began to speculate that the White House was behind the leaks.
In June 2012 a House committee announced it would investigate the leaks. Obama effectively halted that investigation by ordering Eric Holder and the Justice Department to investigate. After interviewing hundreds of witnesses Holder's investigation found nothing, mainly because the leaks came from the White House and the DOJ probe was a farcical snipe hunt.
However it wasn't a wasted effort because Holder was able to subpoena the AP’s phone records. With these White House operatives were able to identify many, if not all, of the AP’s confidential sources in the Obama Administration, in Congress and elsewhere.
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