We must protect our Fourth Estate.

The Associated Press has accused the Justice Department of “massive and unprecedented intrusion.” That's according to one of the AP's top executives, after learning that the government secretly acquired two months of the news agency's telephone records. In a letter to the AP last Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation, as to why it sought the records of 20 separate phone lines used by reporters in April and May of last year. However, in previous testimony, government officials said that the U.S. Attorney in Washington was conducting a criminal investigation into the leak of confidential CIA information that was cited in an AP story last year.

AP President and CEO, Gary Pruitt, sent a letter of protest to Attorney General Eric Holder, writing, “the government has no conceivable right to know” about communications with confidential sources. Normally, news agencies are notified in advance when the government wants these type of records, and there's negotiation between the agency and the government over the requested information. But the Justice Department's letter cited an exemption to that requirement, which waives the notification requirement if it poses “a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.”

It's not clear if the records request was signed off on by a judge or grand jury, or if the request was granted by secret FISA courts. So, the Justice Department has violated our First Amendment without so much as a warning, and refuses to disclose their reason for doing so. This is something we should all be concerned about.

Freedom of the press is one of our most important liberties. The press is our fourth estate, and it is our constitutionally protected way to publicly challenge our government. It was Thomas Jefferson who said “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” We must protect this liberty, and start demanding some answers from our Justice Department.


ckrob's picture
ckrob 11 years 5 weeks ago

Your 'Great Minds' interview with Medea Benjamin yesterday reminded me of a presentation by her husband, Kevin Danaher, in which he related a story of a Central American lay pastor who was killed for growing rabbits. Kevin would be a great participant for your Great Minds series.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 5 weeks ago

Govt obtains wide AP phone records in probe
By MARK SHERMAN — May. 13 4:47 PM EDT

Hackers break into Israeli Nuclear web sites.....capturing many terabytes of information..also
Sounds like a nuclear threat on an airport in NewYork to me...here:

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 5 weeks ago

What hypocrisy..Obama is so full of it..in light of the fact that they have done nothing but prosecute whistle blowers and are going after Manning and Assange:

" By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. General Principles. Openness in government strengthens our democracy, promotes the delivery of efficient and effective services to the public, and contributes to economic growth. As one vital benefit of open government, making information resources easy to find, accessible, and usable can fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, and scientific discovery that improves Americans' lives and contributes significantly to job creation. "


stonesphear's picture
stonesphear 11 years 5 weeks ago

If it's lack of oversight it's lack of oversight, a failure attributable to executive oversight. Other wise it's unconstitutional misuse of insider knowledge and behind the curtains power exercised on the part of the exec. Same holds true for the emerging IRS scandal. All that is required is a spark and a breeze , The wind is howling and the sparks are flying.

Nick Lento's picture
Nick Lento 11 years 5 weeks ago

Hello, I tuned in during tail end of a reading of an excellent critique of Reagan...at the end Thom attributed it to "Robert Bernstein" .....cant find it on web. Did I get the name right? Is there a link? Or was he just reading from a letter?


leighmf's picture
leighmf 11 years 5 weeks ago

I'm still wrestling my great-grandfather, great-grandmother, grandfather, and mother's estate from the DOJ Protection Organization of Lawyers. So this makes the 5th for me- Shall I take the fifth, they having 1-4?

What do I think? I think we have been infiltrated since 1947 and the Master Plan is near completion.

ptg0's picture
ptg0 11 years 5 weeks ago

Speaking of Constitutional protections, every newspaper that has an on line blog has a rigid censorship policy that inhibits "free speach". Now they know what it feels like.

People who live in glass houses shouldnt throw stones.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 11 years 5 weeks ago

"No nation ancient or modern ever lost the liberty of freely speaking, writing, or publishing their sentiments, but forthwith lost their liberty in general and became slaves." John Peter Zenger

I'd like to thank all those IRS workers who patriotically investigated the anti-government extremists who have targeted the entire working class by aiding and abetting a few billionaires whose obsession it is to tear down our democracy and replace it with plain old fascism.

Now how about going after democracy hating extremist groups who maintain tax exempt status by defining themselves as religious organizations?

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 11 years 5 weeks ago

2950-10K -- Unfortunately they allowed tax exempt status to all those anti-government extremists who havetargeted the entire working class by aiding and abetting a few billionaires .

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 11 years 5 weeks ago

The justice dept. has something to hide.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 11 years 5 weeks ago

What CIA story was being investigated?

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 11 years 5 weeks ago

chuckle8: Yes, I heard about that too, and it is unfortunate. I hope it comes out in the hearings, it sure would silence Turtleman along with the rest of the obstructionists.

bobcox's picture
bobcox 11 years 5 weeks ago

Just watch the GOP member of the House ignore Holder's statement "the government has no right to know". they have done it before and they'll do it again!

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 11 years 5 weeks ago

Thomas Jefferson wasn't the only President to speak passionately about the freedom of the press. So was President Kennedy who commented about the freedom of the press being so essential to the democratic process that it is the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution. In fact, he went on to say, that is why it's protections are in the 1st Amendment. Because the insurance of the presses freedoms is the very foundation of a free society.

PhilipHenderson's picture
PhilipHenderson 11 years 5 weeks ago

I believe the Justice Department followed the precise letter of the law on this one. President Obama would like to have had a different law in place however current law permits the Justice Department to conduct this kind of investigation. Senator Obama tried to stop this law but the Republicans would not relent, they filibuster the change that would have stopped the Justice department from doing this work. My argument is not with the administration, they did their job. My argument is with Republicans who made certain that hte Justice department could conduct this exact kind of investigation. Now they will probably attack the President because he did what they permitted him to do. If George W. Bush had done this they would be applauding him. This is more Republican hypocrisy but not a problem with the Justice department or the President.

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 11 years 5 weeks ago

Oh how soon they forget the dirty business of Bush & Co. Those thugs entered our military family home while we were away one day (we smelled cigarette smoke in our home--we do not smoke and our home has NEVER been smoked in by anyone since it was built) tapped our phone (and those of PEACE GROUPS to which we belonged)--the hollow background sound--and internet; there was this funny line on my screen (and we were not permitted access to "certain" websites) that appeared after we found out our son was going to serve in Iraq--an unmarked "telephone" truck pulled up to our rural port "worked" on it--there were no new homes to hook up or reported outages by our neighbors, but ours was the one targeted for "work." The line on my screen (still have the same computer screen) disappeared and the phone went back to normal when President Obama was elected.

Now the shoe is on the other foot and the babies are crying "FOUL." It's all part of the Rethuglican plot to regain power. They play like schoolyard bullies who whine when the tables are turned on them.

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