It is curious that the administration would anger the very press that has been their friend and ally for 4 1/2 years. Perhaps it was done legally. I don't know. But I do know that it was a bad political move. It would be refreshing to have a genuinely transparent administration at some point, wouldn't it? I guess that's tough when the federal government is more corrupt than it wants people to know.
It appears Holder may have a way out.....but not around the House's Phones.
What the AP Subpoena Scandal Means for Your Electronic Privacy......
The Justice Department’s snooping on journalists working for the Associated Press is an abuse of power in the broadest sense. But one reason the whole episode is controversial at all is because the Obama administration technically broke no rules.
By law, companies that cooperate with government investigations—such as the telecom operators the AP concludes gave up its phone logs—are protected from lawsuits. The immunity is built into a 2008 revision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—which President Obama, then a senator, opposed before backtracking and endorsing it.
“I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program,” Obama said shortly after the legislative update passed the House.
The flip-flop enraged civil libertarians at the time, but Monday's revelation from DOJ reveals how far the government has come since the days when going after journalists meant subpoenaing them head-on and causing a public spectacle in the process.
But now it seems as though the Justice Department is trying a different strategy. Rather than haul a resistant reporter before the court, it’s instead circumventing that circus altogether by going straight to the phone companies. That the telcos are able to deflect lawsuits under FISA only inflates the incentive to ask for their data. As Edward Wasserman, dean of the journalism school at UC-Berkeley, wrote in The Miami Herald last May:
... prosecutors aren’t hassling reporters as they once did. Thanks to the post-9/11 explosion in government intercepts, electronic surveillance, and data capture of all imaginable kinds — the NSA is estimated to have intercepted 15-20 trillion communications in the past decade — the secrecy police have vast new ways to identify leakers.
So they no longer have to force journalists to expose confidential sources. As a national security representative told Lucy Dalglish, director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “We’re not going to subpoena reporters in the future. We don’t need to. We know who you’re talking to.”
The government’s supposed to make a reasonable effort to get the forensic information it’s looking for without resorting to press-related subpoenas. Whether those reasonable efforts were made this time is going to be an important question moving forward. But even more important is whether they’ll make the efforts next time. Whatever you believe about the morality of prosecuting leakers—and even if the Obama administration really did exhaust its other options before turning to the telecom operators—the temptation to seize phone logs as a first resort rather than the last is only growing in proportion to the amount of data that carriers are collecting and storing on us all.
It’s not just journalists and their sources who stand to suffer from an erosion of the legal barriers between government and businesses. Here’s a short list of your personal information companies can hand over to the feds without repercussion, and on little more than a subpoena: geolocation data, the PCs you’ve accessed, emails you’ve sent and text messages and content you’ve placed on cloud services like Dropbox.
Some companies have taken steps to counteract this trend. Dropbox, Twitter and LinkedIn have all promised to tell you when the government asks for data about you. Every year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation grades major tech firms along these lines.
Now it’s fallen to the nation’s least-functioning body to address the problem. The Senate’s working on a bill that would require at least a warrant for some types of electronic data and would close a loophole that currently lets law enforcement access your emails if they’re more than 180 days old. It might pass, and it might not. But you can expect the Obama administration to drag its feet the whole way.....snip~
What the AP Subpoena Scandal Means for Your Electronic Privacy - NationalJournal.com
Looks Like the DOJ will have to try and find an excuse thru telcos. New Bills that were passed Either way when it is all done and over with Obama loses credability either way. A lot of it too. Thoughts?
The issue of classified information is difficult. If something is truly a threat to national security, then it should be classified. My guess is that the majority of classified information is not classified because it is a threat but because the government doesn't want people to know about it. It is convenient to hide things simply by classifying them. Perhaps this issue was truly a national security threat. I don't know. If it was, then the phone record browsing was done surreptitiously. If it wasn't then it was politically stupid. Either way, it happened to some degree because the chief executive set the tone.
This is going to be very difficult for Obama to control and avoid being held responsible for pretty serious crimes or ethical violations. But if anyone can do it, Obama can. He makes Slick Willie look like a piker.
-I don't trust a man who talks about ethics when he's picking my pocket.- Time Enough For Love - Robert A Heinlein
My avatar created by Feliza Estrada email@example.com
I don't see their logic here. While it may (or may not) be the case that what the DOJ did "technically broke no rules" - the fact that companies that cooperate with government investigations are protected from lawsuits has nothing to do with whether or not the request made of them was in fact legal. Just because a company can't be sued doesn't mean the government is free to do what it wants.Originally Posted by National Journal
If this was what Holder says it was, a way to find who was leaking highly classified information that would be detrimental to the security of our nation, then you check the phone records of the limited number of people who knew about it. You don't intimidate the AP and reveal all of their confidential sources. I don't think the American people really understand what's being done here.
This action has effectively chilled those who would contact reporters with inside information...secret or otherwise.
If our press gets intimidated and controlled by the government, we're screwed.
Thank you, Quazi!