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U.S.Media Journalists going "Guerilla" over being Wire-Tapped?

by D.D.Gladstone Wednesday, May. 17, 2006 at 9:32 AM

"FBI Acknowledges: Journalists' Phone Records are Fair Game"

The big problem with the Bush Governments "illegal" wiretapping of journalists and reporters and basically just about everybody,is that people are going to get pissed off and start filling their phone conversations with all kinds purposely missleading info on terrorists and terrorists plots and bomb making and of course their locations etc. - but all this terrorist info will be phony and designed only to put those FBI;CIA and NSA (illegal)"wire-tappers" on hundreds and thousands of wild goose chases! They won't be able to seperate the wheat from the mountains of chaff as the saying goes!

FBI Acknowledges: Journalists' Phone Records are Fair Game
May 16, 2006 12:25 PM

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

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.

The acknowledgement followed our blotter item that ABC News reporters had been warned by a federal source that the government knew who we were calling.

The official said our blotter item was wrong to suggest that ABC News phone calls were being "tracked."

"Think of it more as backtracking," said a senior federal official.

But FBI officials did not deny that phone records of ABC News, the New York Times and the Washington Post had been sought as part of a investigation of leaks at the CIA.

In a statement, the FBI press office said its leak investigations begin with the examination of government phone records.

"The FBI will take logical investigative steps to determine if a criminal act was committed by a government employee by the unauthorized release of classified information," the statement said.

Officials say that means that phone records of reporters will be sought if government records are not sufficient.

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.

May 16, 2006 | Permalink

User Comments

Bush said the domestic spying was only for catching terrorists. Now they are using spy techniques to catch leakers. We knew it was a lie when Bush said they were only tracking calls from Al Qaeda.
What will they use the technology for next? They'll use it to intimidate jounalists and anybody else who questions authority.
Posted by: Matthew Cowan | May 16, 2006 11:35:40 AM

This is illegal and should stay that way. This is another thing that makes me believe that Bush was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks....
IMPEACH immediately
Posted by: brenda | May 16, 2006 11:36:41 AM

I guess this explains why Bob Woodward had to meet with "Deep Throat" in person rather than discussing things on the telephone. Woodward had a pretty well developed sense of paranoia that was right on the mark. I suggest that investigative journalists develop a similar distrust of the current administration. And just remember this date: January 10, 2009. Hang in there, America!
Posted by: Ancient Mariner | May 16, 2006 11:37:43 AM

Do you think NOW the press has a personal stake in the issue of privacy? One of the fundamental tenets of a free and open democratic process involves the active participation of the the press. Grow a backbone...
Posted by: Chris Crockett | May 16, 2006 11:38:28 AM

This is unacceptable in a democracy! National Secuirty Letters were meant to be used to go after potential terrorists, not journalists. Freedom of the press must be preserved- it's all we have left.

Posted by: barbara upton | May 16, 2006 11:43:29 AM

So are NSLs for going after terrorists? or are they for creating and enforcing a 1984-style police state?
These are sad days for America.
Posted by: Katie O | May 16, 2006 11:45:01 AM

Do we live in America or the Soviet Union?
Posted by: trip | May 16, 2006 11:45:36 AM

So when will the FBI start back tracking the White House leakers?
Posted by: eve | May 16, 2006 11:48:11 AM

It is amazing that the same government that is saying people in Iraq must be willing to die so they may be free is telling Americans they should be willing to give up their freedoms so they do not die.
Talk about double speak.
Posted by: Sylvia | May 16, 2006 12:08:14 PM

I don't see a problem with this. Someone leaks... first off its not "leaking" its disclosing confidential, secret or top secret information. Any of which can harm national security. The FBI CIA et al are tasked with finding, arresting and prosecuting those who disclose this information. They have an ongoing investigation, they need to subpoena records to investigate and find the guilty parties.
Posted by: Alfred Gattenby | May 16, 2006 12:08:32 PM

Fascism is alive and well in Bush's Orwellian administration. As if we didn't know this already.
Posted by: T Hodges | May 16, 2006 12:10:34 PM

What is it going to take to get these people out of office, they are the most corrupt and dangerouse administration ever if we were a foreign coutry we would be threatning to bomb ourselves. It is totally disgusting, I hope you can do your part in keeping these people out of our personal lives. ww
Posted by: Wayne Winter | May 16, 2006 12:13:09 PM

Big Brother Is Watching YOU
Posted by: xyz | May 16, 2006 12:15:33 PM

Perhaps NOW the media will start reporting on what a serious violation of our constitutional rights this TIA has become...
Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 12:37:01 PM

How can this be legal? I can understand getting the phone records of the SUSPECTED LEAKER, but not from people not suspected of a crime -- the reporters being investigated are innocent of any crime. lacking a warrant -- which surely the FBI could never get in such a situation -- it's obviously an invasion of privacy.
Posted by: Zachary | May 16, 2006 12:44:57 PM

This is a good program. The press have entered the political fray and should be viewed warily by all parties. If complicit in law breaking they should cooperate and, perhaps, prosecuted.
Posted by: Steven Marshall | May 16, 2006 12:48:05 PM

The damage that terrorists pose to our life and property pales in comparison to the damage that the FEAR of terrorism can do to our moral convictions, Bill of Rights, Constitution and international relationships. To surrender any of these in the name of security is to play right into the terrorists' hands...and what we willingly surrender in the name of security may never be reclaimed.
As members of a "free" and "democratic" society, we would be outraged if we heard these abuses we being commited by China, Russia or Iraq. How can we hold ourselves to a lesser standard? It is hypocracy of the highest order and if we hold our freedoms dear, we MUST hold our government accountable for the abuses it perpatrates in our name.
Posted by: James | May 16, 2006 12:49:27 PM

So, we just lost "freedom of the press", to the thunderous sound of public indifference. All hail our new neocon overlords! And all the conservatives are still so worried about losing their gun rights, so when the ghost of King George III comes to take their rights away. Hah! Fools. What insanity could possibly be next?
What I find most interesting, is the fact that all of this complex system of phonre record tracking may be easily circumvented by use of multiple random public phones, or a voip connection, or hell EVEN A HAM RADIO. This will not (or could not) be used stop ANY terrorist, only as above, to reign in the media. Welcome to our dystopic future!
Posted by: leopold | May 16, 2006 12:52:44 PM

so you think this story will NOW be on World News Tonight? Somehow, I doubt it.
When the rest of the networks led with Tom DeLay's indictment, and ABC's lead story was the Internet porn investigation, I knew that ABC News is too reluctant to criticize this Admin.
Posted by: SPENCER ADAMS | May 16, 2006 1:15:29 PM

ABC News is too reluctant to criticize this Admin.
maybe, but kudos to brian ross for this. seems like the kinda thing reporters would be interested in. so few of them left, i suppose.
Posted by: benjoya | May 16, 2006 1:28:22 PM

The fourth estate will have to be cagier about how they get their information. Our dictators are looking for what they would call "traitors" (I would call them brave patriots) that are providing information on the criminal activities of this administration. The Constitution and laws of this nation have not been suspended, to our knowledge and until these crooks make that mistake, they are still subject to them.
Posted by: Pat M. | May 16, 2006 1:28:26 PM

This has nothing to do with freedom of the press. This has to do with crimes that have been committed - the divulging of classified information. The FBI SHOULD be conducting thorough investigations. Just because you work for the media doesn't make you exempt from the law. The media is upset about this because if there aren't leaks of classified informationn they have less stories to air. With fewer "big" stories to air the have fewer viewers. With fewer viewers they can't charge the advertisers as much money.
Posted by: Sam Jenkins | May 16, 2006 1:31:02 PM

"National Security Letters" are
nothing more than what were called
"Writs of Assistance" more than
two centuries ago--and we fought
a revolutionary war to stop the practice. Maybe we'll have to do that again.
Posted by: Charles Burke | May 16, 2006 1:31:38 PM

It really does not matter if it is against the law to leak "classified" informaton. It should NEVER be considered a crime to report another crime. In this case, the right to report these criminal actions of the United States trumps any law regarding classified info. People have an *inalienable* right to know such facts. Tracking, or backtracking, these phone records amounts to an unwarranted search, not a justified step in a "criminal" investiation.
Posted by: Marc DeTrano | May 16, 2006 1:36:35 PM

Hopefully they charge the people they catch leaking classified information with treason.
Posted by: Jon | May 16, 2006 1:37:47 PM

Big Brother is Watching YOU. Such a classic quote, but it's the total truth.
To the government: HEY WE AREN'T THE TERROISTS.
Posted by: Ri | May 16, 2006 1:39:38 PM

This should raise our hackles. If the administration is really using this tool to chill reporting, it is over the line.
Tracking down leaks to reporters without need for judicial oversight is a dangerous evasion of the checks and balances our founding fathers carefully crafted into our constitution.
It is exactly the judicial oversight (with the judiciary as an independent player, with no dog in the fight) that critically balances real national security risk against the politically inconvenient exposure of bad behavior and overreaching by the executive branch. It should be patently obvious that no administration can be trusted to make that judgement without oversight.
I pose this this question to supporters of the patriot act: was it a purpose of that act (and your intention) to give the President the power to chill politically embarrassing leaks insofar as they have little or nothing to do with national security? Or is this one of the dangers we face as a consequence of eliminating controls and granting extra powers to better hunt down terrorists?
If it is one of the dangers, then what can we do to mitigate it? At a minimum, we need to send a message that there is a political price for those who abuse our trust by using the extra powers we gave them for their own ends.
Our liberty is not free-- we must defend it in the civil space as vigilantly as we do on the battlefield.

Posted by: William Dawkins | May 16, 2006 1:46:14 PM

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
~Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
Enough said!
Posted by: Rebecca | May 16, 2006 1:48:16 PM

Yes the FBI has the duty to investigate leaks of classified information. But, lets remember that the story posted is about warrantless searches. Let them get a warrant. I do not have a problem if a judge signs a warrant for phone records of reports who quote classified information. Just follow the constituational requirement of a warrant.
Posted by: Concerned Citizen | May 16, 2006 1:48:52 PM

Impeachment any one?
Posted by: k kolaja | May 16, 2006 1:52:02 PM

This so called war has our government spying on its citizens its sad, relly sad.
Posted by: Cody | May 16, 2006 2:22:04 PM

[A]ll experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
How long does the train have to get before people start clamoring for impeachment? For those who claim that it's legal, double check that there 4th amendment. Note: It's in the Founding Father's Top Ten list of guaranteed freedoms.
Posted by: Louisiana Moderate | May 16, 2006 2:30:44 PM

Big Brother is using Terriosm to explain their need to violate the rights of Americans. If they can use all this technology to spy on Americans and those who are speaking with reporters then why can't they use some of the technology to catch Osama Bin Laden who was and still is a bigger threat to America than Saddam Hussein.
Many American lives have been lost or changed because they were fighting to keep the freedoms that Americans have gained since this great country was founded and now in less than 5 years we stand to lose some of our basic freedoms, such as the right to privacy.
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