Why Did The DOJ Get AP’s Phone Records?
When the scandalous story about the DOJ secretly obtaining the phone records of phones used by the Associated Press, the usual suspects tried to excuse it as a “normal” case of the government investigating possible leaks of classified information. Sure, it was an unprecedented breach of freedom of the press, but hey, national security.
Well, it turns out national security might not have been why the subpoenas were obtained in secret:
For five days, reporters at the Associated Press had been sitting on a big scoop about a foiled al-Qaeda plot at the request of CIA officials. Then, in a hastily scheduled Monday morning meeting, the journalists were asked by agency officials to hold off on publishing the story for just one more day.
The CIA officials, who had initially cited national security concerns in an attempt to delay publication, no longer had those worries, according to individuals familiar with the exchange. Instead, the Obama administration was planning to announce the successful counterterrorism operation that Tuesday.
AP balked and proceeded to publish that Monday afternoon. Its May 2012 report is now at the center of a controversial and broad seizure of phone records of AP reporters’ home, office and cellphone lines. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the unauthorized disclosure about an intelligence operation to stop al-Qaeda from detonating explosives aboard a U.S. airliner was among the most serious leaks he could remember, and justified secretly obtaining records from a handful of reporters and editors over a span of two months.
That’s right, boys and girls. That sound you heard was the “national security” justification going POOF! The AP dutifully held back on reporting the story in order to protect national security and the Obama administration screwed them anyway. The AP reported the story only after it was made clear that the information wasn’t sensitive anymore. The information was going to be used for PR purposes by the Obama administration and the AP essentially stole their thunder.
Stealing the Obama administration’s thunder is now grounds for secret subpoenas on the press.
Is this America?
*UPDATE: A number of people aren’t quite grasping why this new information makes the DOJ / AP story more explosive. I’ll attempt to explain:
1. The justification for the secret subpoenas was that the AP story revealed sensitive information and…
2. The DOJ used a special exemption to keep the subpoena secret instead of going through the normal policy of working with the press instead of secretly spying on them.
Now, given that the information was no longer sensitive, and that the administration was going to go on a little ball-spiking tour, the use of a special exemption when it was no longer needed (AP was already working with the government by holding off on publishing) puts this entire fiasco in a different, more nefarious light.
It was payback for scooping the administration. That’s it. There was no national security concern.
Make more sense?