So let me get this straight, because this is important. It's the end of teh world according to some, or at least a potentially impeachable offense for Obama.
1. The Justice Department issued a subpoena and got phone records for some AP offices for two months. TWO MONTHS.
2. The reason we know this is because the Justice Department ITSELF sent a nice letter informing the AP of this fact.
3. Presumably, the Justice Department followed all of its internal rules regarding obtaining these records, which according to the article are fairly strict.
4. The Justice Department did NOT (so far as we know) tap any phones. You know, actually LISTEN to any conversation held by a reporter.
Rules published by the Justice Department require that subpoenas of records of news organizations must be personally approved by the attorney general, but it was not known if that happened in this case. The letter notifying AP that its phone records had been obtained through subpoenas was sent Friday by Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney in Washington.
William Miller, a spokesman for Machen, said Monday that in general the U.S. attorney follows "all applicable laws, federal regulations and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations." But he would not address questions about the specifics of the AP records. "We do not comment on ongoing criminal investigations," Miller said in an email.
The Justice Department lays out strict rules for efforts to get phone records from news organizations. A subpoena can be considered only after "all reasonable attempts" have been made to get the same information from other sources, the rules say. It was unclear what other steps, in total, the Justice Department might have taken to get information in the case.
I agree that it's always concerning when government leans heavily on the media, but I gotta say I don't quite see all this as the end of Western Civilization...