The U.S. government spied on calls made from the offices of the Associated Press, in what can be considered an interference of the Obama Administration in freedom of the press. AP reported Monday that the decision could be related to an investigation to determine who leaked information to the agency on a CIA operation in Yemen that thwarted an attack in May 2012.
The agency described the incident as “a massive and unprecedented interference” in the work of journalists. “There is no justification for the comprehensive surveillance of communications at AP” said the news agency president, Gary Pruitt, in a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Pruitt explained that the call have the potential to “disclose confidential communications with sources involved in all activities conducted by AP for a period of two months, including the protocol operation of the agency, as well as information on activities and operations the government has no right to know “.
The government had access to the call history during the months of April and May 2012 with up to 20 telephone lines in three of AP’s offices, including New York and Washington. According to the AP, the Department of Justice sent a note about the surveillance conducted on the work of over 100 people.
The agency says it has not received official information from the government that explains the causes of the spying, but that it may be related to research carried out by the Attorney General about the source who revealed details about a CIA operation related to a supposed thwarted attack on the first anniversary of the death of Bin Laden. The call list includes calls made by the five reporters and the editor who worked on this news investigation.
The White House said Monday through his spokesman, Jay Carney, that it was unaware of any attempt by the Department of Justice to obtain such information from AP. “We have no involvement in decisions that may be taken in connection with criminal investigations, as these issues are managed independently by the Department,” Carney said.
The Obama administration has been criticized over the years by what many consider an open clash with the freedom of the press, especially when it comes to protecting anonymous sources.
The Justice Department has opened six cases against members of government that revealed information to journalists, well above the record of his predecessors.
In the case of AP, the agency recognizes that negotiated the delay of the publication of the news in May 2012, as several members of the Government argued that could threaten national security. However, the 7th of the same month, the information came to light, revealing that the CIA had prevented an attack on a plane from Yemen, although the White House had previously claimed that it lacked “credible information about plans of terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda to attack the United States “.
Politicians from both parties have criticized the Obama administration procedure. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, told AP that the allegations “are worrisome” and he expects that the government explains itself. The Republican Darrell Issa, chairman of the Government Oversight Committee of the House of Representatives, said that the government “was required to find information on any site before interfering with press freedom.”
U.S. Federal law provides that the Attorney General can only collect this information once it has obtained a court order to do so and, in the case of the media the warrant must be approved personally by the Attorney General.
Although AP was notified last Friday that the information had been obtained through court orders, the news organization cannot confirm if this procedure was followed.
Main stream media: Welcome to our Orwellian society. Perhaps now there will be more people in the establishment news agencies who will take more seriously the warnings of the people who for many years have shown concern about the unlimited irresponsibility of an out of control government.