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Old 05-13-2013, 07:44 PM  
petegz28 petegz28 is offline
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Government taps AP reporters' phones.....illegally

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20130513/DA68MMQ82.html

WASHINGTON (AP) - 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.

Among those whose phone numbers were obtained were five reporters and an editor who were involved in the May 7, 2012, story.

The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of providing classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the investigative House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on CNN, "They had an obligation to look for every other way to get it before they intruded on the freedom of the press."

The American Civil Liberties Union said the use of subpoenas for a broad swath of records has a chilling effect both on journalists and whistleblowers who want to reveal government wrongdoing. "The attorney general must explain the Justice Department's actions to the public so that we can make sure this kind of press intimidation does not happen again," said Laura Murphy, the director of ACLU's Washington legislative office.

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.

A subpoena to the media must be "as narrowly drawn as possible" and "should be directed at relevant information regarding a limited subject matter and should cover a reasonably limited time period," according to the rules.

The reason for these constraints, the department says, is to avoid actions that "might impair the news gathering function" because the government recognizes that "freedom of the press can be no broader than the freedom of reporters to investigate and report the news."

News organizations normally are notified in advance that the government wants phone records and then they enter into negotiations over the desired information. In this case, however, the government, in its letter to the AP, cited an exemption to those rules that holds that prior notification can be waived if such notice, in the exemption's wording, might "pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation."

It is unknown whether a judge or a grand jury signed off on the subpoenas.

The May 7, 2012, AP story that disclosed details of the CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot occurred around the one-year anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden.

The plot was significant both because of its seriousness and also because the White House previously had told the public it had "no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden's death."

The AP delayed reporting the story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security. Once officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP disclosed the plot, though the Obama administration continued to request that the story be held until the administration could make an official announcement.

The May 7 story was written by reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman with contributions from reporters Kimberly Dozier, Eileen Sullivan and Alan Fram. They and their editor, Ted Bridis, were among the journalists whose April-May 2012 phone records were seized by the government.

Brennan talked about the AP story and investigation in written testimony to the Senate. "The irresponsible and damaging leak of classified information was made ... when someone informed the Associated Press that the U.S. Government had intercepted an IED (improvised explosive device) that was supposed to be used in an attack and that the U.S. Government currently had that IED in its possession and was analyzing it," he wrote.

He also defended the White House decision to discuss the plot afterward. "Once someone leaked information about interdiction of the IED and that the IED was actually in our possession, it was imperative to inform the American people consistent with Government policy that there was never any danger to the American people associated with this al-Qa'ida plot," Brennan told senators.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:39 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikey23545 View Post
This country is teetering on the edge of an abyss unlike any we have seen the like of before...

If you think this, that's only because you have no idea how J. Edgar Hoover ran the FBI.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:41 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Dylan View Post
Many in the mainstream media were and are complicit in the attack of the Second Amendment. So it serves them right to get caught up in a fight for their First Amendment rights.

An "attack" on the Second Amendment? Was that trying to pass a bill that was similar to a law that used to be on the books, and which was supported by multiple former Presidents (including Republicans)?
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:46 AM   #33
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I have to agree with cosmo that the title is misleading. The story doesn't support the idea that reporters' phones were tapped or that what the government did was illegal. It was unprecedented though.

If it weren't for the fact that the White House has no problem leaking classified info when it's politically expedient, I might be more sympathetic with an effort to unmask leakers. But even then, I'm not sure a broad sweep of phone records is justified, even if it turns out to be legal.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:46 AM   #34
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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.

Quote:
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...
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:47 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by blaise View Post
It's not that a law was broken, it's that during the Bush years had something like this happened we would have heard the left screeching about the police state we're in and how sinister Republicans don't respect journalists and freedoms they require.
Instead it's, "Meh. So?" from a lot of them now that Obama's doing it. Although it does seem to be bothering some. You even have Obama aplogists like the Huff Post talking about it, and they'd overlook almost as much as cosmo.
I agree with this. There's a lot of hypocrisy going on here.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:47 AM   #36
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It was unprecedented though.
Do we know that? I skimmed the article but didn't see that.

I note, of course, that pretty much nothing is unprecedent if one wants to include all the stuff Hoover did...
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:48 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blaise View Post
It's not that a law was broken, it's that during the Bush years had something like this happened we would have heard the left screeching about the police state we're in and how sinister Republicans don't respect journalists and freedoms they require.
Instead it's, "Meh. So?" from a lot of them now that Obama's doing it. Although it does seem to be bothering some. You even have Obama aplogists like the Huff Post talking about it, and they'd overlook almost as much as cosmo.
Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
I agree with this. There's a lot of hypocrisy going on here.

I agree, though the hypocrisy lives on both sides of the aisle...
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:50 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post
Do we know that? I skimmed the article but didn't see that.

I note, of course, that pretty much nothing is unprecedent if one wants to include all the stuff Hoover did...
That's what the AP is reporting.
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:10 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Amnorix View Post
I agree, though the hypocrisy lives on both sides of the aisle...
Yes, just flip the reactions based on the President, generally.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:04 AM   #40
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My God, one scandal after another people shrug and say "Oh, that's just politics, Old Man!"...

I can't believe how much people are manufacturing excuses for this habitually criminal administration...

Can you imagine if the Nixon administration was caught seizing AP phone records? If Bush was caught going to bed, being unavailable, while an American ambassador was begging for help? Hell, if any Republican president was caught sending the IRS brownshirts after political opponents?

This nation has been drugged into a coma by welfare checks, free cell phones, and government-bought steaks...
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:04 AM   #41
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I agree, though the hypocrisy lives on both sides of the aisle...
....this isn't an excuse.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:11 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by mikey23545 View Post
Hell, if any Republican president was caught sending the IRS brownshirts after political opponents?

O rly?

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/14/when...eted_liberals/
Quote:
When the IRS targeted liberals
Under George W. Bush, it went after the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church
BY ALEX SEITZ-WALD
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TOPICS: IRS, GEORGE W. BUSH, NONPROFITS, CAMPAIGN FINANCE, EDITOR'S PICKS, BUSINESS NEWS, POLITICS NEWS


(Credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)
While few are defending the Internal Revenue Service for targeting some 300 conservative groups, there are two critical pieces of context missing from the conventional wisdom on the “scandal.” First, at least from what we know so far, the groups were not targeted in a political vendetta — but rather were executing a makeshift enforcement test (an ugly one, mind you) for IRS employees tasked with separating political groups not allowed to claim tax-exempt status, from bona fide social welfare organizations. Employees are given almost zero official guidance on how to do that, so they went after Tea Party groups because those seemed like they might be political. Keep in mind, the commissioner of the IRS at the time was a Bush appointee.

The second is that while this is the first time this kind of thing has become a national scandal, it’s not the first time such activity has occurred.

“I wish there was more GOP interest when I raised the same issue during the Bush administration, where they audited a progressive church in my district in what look liked a very selective way,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on MSNBC Monday. “I found only one Republican, [North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones], that would join me in calling for an investigation during the Bush administration. I’m glad now that the GOP has found interest in this issue and it ought to be a bipartisan concern.”

The well-known church, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, became a bit of a cause célèbre on the left after the IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status over an anti-Iraq War sermon the Sunday before the 2004 election. “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine,’” rector George Regas said from the dais.

The church, which said progressive activism was in its “DNA,” hired a powerful Washington lawyer and enlisted the help of Schiff, who met with the commissioner of the IRS twice and called for a Government Accountability Office investigation, saying the IRS audit violated the First Amendment and was unduly targeting a political opponent of the Bush administration. “My client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” church attorney Marcus Owens, who is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts on this area of the law, said at the time. In 2007, the IRS closed the case, decreeing that the church violated rules preventing political intervention, but it did not revoke its nonprofit status.


And while All Saints came under the gun, conservative churches across the country were helping to mobilize voters for Bush with little oversight. In 2006, citing the precedent of All Saints, “a group of religious leaders accused the Internal Revenue Service yesterday of playing politics by ignoring its complaint that two large churches in Ohio are engaging in what it says are political activities, in violation of the tax code,” the New York Times reported at the time. The churches essentially campaigned for a Republican gubernatorial candidate, they alleged, and even flew him on one of their planes.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Ethics in Washington filed two ethics complaints against a church in Minnesota. “You know we can’t publicly endorse as a church and would not for any candidate, but I can tell you personally that I’m going to vote for Michele Bachmann,” pastor Mac Hammond of the Living Word Christian Center in Minnesota said in 2006 before welcoming her to the church. The IRS opened an audit into the church, but it went nowhere after the church appealed the audit on a technicality.

And it wasn’t just churches. In 2004, the IRS went after the NAACP, auditing the nation’s oldest civil rights group after its chairman criticized President Bush for being the first sitting president since Herbert Hoover not to address the organization. “They are saying if you criticize the president we are going to take your tax exemption away from you,” then-chairman Julian Bond said. “It’s pretty obvious that the complainant was someone who doesn’t believe George Bush should be criticized, and it’s obvious of their response that the IRS believes this, too.”

In a letter to the IRS, Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel, Pete Stark and John Conyers wrote: “It is obvious that the timing of this IRS examination is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the members of the NAACP, and the communities the organization represents, in their get-out-the-vote effort nationwide.”

Then, in 2006, the Wall Street Journal broke the story of a how a little-known pressure group called Public Interest Watch — which received 97 percent of its funds from Exxon Mobile one year — managed to get the IRS to open an investigation into Greenpeace. Greenpeace had labeled Exxon Mobil the “No. 1 climate criminal.” The IRS acknowledged its audit was initiated by Public Interest Watch and threatened to revoke Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status, but closed the investigation three months later.

As the Journal reporter, Steve Stecklow, later said in an interview, “This comes against a backdrop where a number of conservative groups have been attacking nonprofits and NGOs over their tax-exempt status. There have been hearings on Capitol Hill. There have been a number of conservative groups in Washington who have been quite critical.”

Indeed, the year before that, the Senate held a hearing on nonprofits’ political activity. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, the then-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the IRS needed better enforcement, but also “legislative changes” to better define the lines between politics and social welfare, since they had not been updated in “a generation.” Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the IRS has defined 501(c)4′s sufficiently to this day, leaving the door open for IRS auditors to make up their own, discriminatory rules.

Those cases mostly involved 501(c)3 organizations, which live in a different section of the tax code for real charities like hospitals and schools. The rules are much stronger and better developed for (c)3′s, in part because they’ve been around longer. But with “social welfare” (c)4 groups, the kind of political activity we saw in 2010 and 2012 is so unprecedented that you get cases like Emerge America, a progressive nonprofit that trains Democratic female candidates for public office. The group has chapters across the country, but in 2011, chapters in Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada were denied 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. Leaders called the situation “bizarre” because in the five years Nevada had waited for approval, the Kentucky chapter was approved, only for the other three to be denied.

A former IRS official told the New York Times that probably meant the applications were sent to different offices, which use slightly different standards. Different offices within the same organization that are supposed to impose the exact same rules in a consistent manner have such uneven conceptions of where to draw the line at a political group, that they can approve one organization and then deny its twin in a different state.

All of these stories suggest that while concern with the IRS posture toward conservative groups now may be merited, to fully understand the situation requires a bit of context and history.
That being said, I'm with you that I'm fed up with this administration. I'm sure that you were raising the alarm back during the Bush administration as well, though!
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:37 AM   #43
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That article is by Salon...
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:15 AM   #44
mikey23545 mikey23545 is offline
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Originally Posted by NewChief View Post
O rly?

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/14/when...eted_liberals/

The well-known church, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, became a bit of a cause célèbre on the left after the IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status over an anti-Iraq War sermon the Sunday before the 2004 election. “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine,’” rector George Regas said from the dais.

The church, which said progressive activism was in its “DNA,” hired a powerful Washington lawyer and enlisted the help of Schiff, who met with the commissioner of the IRS twice and called for a Government Accountability Office investigation, saying the IRS audit violated the First Amendment and was unduly targeting a political opponent of the Bush administration. “My client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” church attorney Marcus Owens, who is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts on this area of the law, said at the time. In 2007, the IRS closed the case, decreeing that the church violated rules preventing political intervention, but it did not revoke its nonprofit status.
O rly?

Even the Communist Party Organ LA Times said :

" The federal tax code prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from intervening in political campaigns and elections."

They obviously violated the law, and still they just dropped the investigation and allowed them to keep their tax exempt status.

Where's the controversy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewChief View Post
Then, in 2006, the Wall Street Journal broke the story of a how a little-known pressure group called Public Interest Watch — which received 97 percent of its funds from Exxon Mobile one year — managed to get the IRS to open an investigation into Greenpeace. Greenpeace had labeled Exxon Mobil the “No. 1 climate criminal.” The IRS acknowledged its audit was initiated by Public Interest Watch and threatened to revoke Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status, but closed the investigation three months later.
So this is a story about the IRS opening an investigation, and then closing it?

THAT'S a scandal?!?!?

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Originally Posted by NewChief View Post
That being said, I'm with you that I'm fed up with this administration. I'm sure that you were raising the alarm back during the Bush administration as well, though!
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:18 AM   #45
Amnorix Amnorix is offline
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Originally Posted by stevieray View Post
....this isn't an excuse.

I didn't say it was. The IRS thing hasn't been fully vetted out yet, but there are some people that need to be fired, I have no doubt of that.

This AP thing -- I don't have enough info on it yet to determine whether it falls closer to the "unfortunate but justified" end of the spectrum or the "JFC they shouldn't be allowed to do that" end.
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