Culture, Justice, Politics

National Security Agency tracking ABC News and more

This morning, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito reported on ABC News’ Blog, The Blotter:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources…Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation. Our reports on the CIA’s secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.
People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.
Under Bush Administration guidelines, it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers.
The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded.
A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.

This was later confirmed by follow up post stating:

The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters’ phone records in leak investigations.
“It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration,” said a senior federal official…Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information with what are called National Security Letters (NSL).
The NSLs are a version of an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government.

Don’t you feel safer now thanks to the Patriot Act?
UPDATE: Go here to take action
cross post to jspot

3 thoughts on “National Security Agency tracking ABC News and more

  1. Your headline tries to link this with the NSA data mining, but you deliberately edited out the part of the story that said ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls (which itself is disengenuous because the NSA is not collecting domestic phone calls but rather collecting phone call records, something long permitted to law enforcement agencies). The updated story makes it clear that looking into reporters’ phone records is a part of a DOJ investigation into government leaks, not part of the NSA data mining program. This investigation, not coincidentally, was called for by ABC and the NYT back when they thought it would damage the president and his agenda. Now that it is legitmately investigating possible criminal action by journalists, the MSM gets all huffy about Big Brother. Judge Brandeis famously said that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. I might add that the First Amendment is not a license to criminal action.
    ABC News and Jewschool are conflating two different investigations, deliberately, in part to obscure ABC’s possibly criminal actions. I happen to think both investigations, the NSA data mining, and the FBI leak investigation, are legitimate uses of tax dollars. The First Amendment doesn’t give the press special rights. The press is just an example of rights owned by all Americans. The rise of blogs and the conflict between the MSM and so-called new media reflects the fact that barriers have dropped so that all Americans are now “publishers” and have as many rights and responsibilities as ABC News. Just as I have no right to publish classified documents, neither does ABC News.
    I am troubled as an American that unelected members of the intelligence community (and some in the DOJ as well), and unelected journalists believe that it is just dandy to break the law when trying to effectively overturn two presidential elections. If this was a plot by right wingers in the CIA to bring down an elected president, you guys would go nuts, but since the target is someone you perceive as a conservative, you are willing to ignore the Seven Days In May / Manchurian Candidate smell of all of this.
    The Jewschool crowd thinks that it’s practicing something that’s not their grandfathers’ or grandmothers’ Judaism, but near as I can see, you still have a religious attachment to left wing politics and react in knee jerk fashion accordingly.
    Also, I’m mystified why it’s okay for a company to use these same records for marketing and business purposes but it’s not okay for the gov’t to use them to look for al quaeda cells. I’m as suspicious of the gummint as the next guy but your privacy has already been breached by the phone company. Hell, I’m not even sure that the DA needs a search warrant to look at your phone bills.

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