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Why is the U.S. Government Spying on Journalists?

Why is the U.S. Government Spying on Journalists?

Freedom of the press? Not on the Obama administration’s watch! The Department of Justice has acknowledged it spent two months spying on employees of the Associated Press. It’s a troubling admission considering that the press is designed to keep the government in check, not the other way around.

Last year, the Justice Department secretly tapped over 20 professional and personal phone lines of AP reporters and editors. “There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters,” wrote AP CEO Gary Pruitt in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. He called for all phone records to be returned and destroyed.

Thus far, the DOJ has stayed fairly quiet on the matter. It has not revealed why it monitored AP reporters or what information it obtained while spying on them.

Although the AP does not know the reason for the government’s spying, it suspects it may have to do with a 2012 story the agency released about a CIA operation in Yemen. Initially, when the U.S. government found out about the story, it convinced the AP to hold off on the piece in the interest of national security. Once the information was no longer considered “threatening,” however, the AP did run the article.

Nonetheless, the Justice Department has aggressively tried to learn who leaked news of the CIA operation. When the DOJ tried to force the AP to reveal the leak, the news organization chose to protect its sources.

Regardless of the motivation for the phone tapping, by eavesdropping on dozens of phone lines used by up to 100 journalists, the DOJ surely learned all sorts of unrelated, private information during two months of surveillance.

Don’t give the government too much credit for owning up to this spying. Admitting the action also doubles as a form of intimidation. Firstly, it makes it plainly clear that government operatives will go on the offensive when a story is reported that it prefers to keep secret. Secondly, and perhaps even more damaging, potential sources will inevitably avoid sharing information with news agencies – particularly the AP – knowing that the government is keeping tabs.

It’s worth noting that the Obama administration has come down on government whistleblowers harder than all previous presidents combined. Previously, Care2 reported on several of these cases. The head office’s vows of “transparency” are dubious, to say the least, considering the aggressive prosecution of those who dare to speak the truth about things the President would prefer not to be disclosed.


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10:06AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013


4:28PM PDT on May 22, 2013

I would argue we already ARE a Fascist state in many, many ways.

4:25PM PDT on May 22, 2013

Newspapaers are run by corporations who deal with ratings. The idea of a free press that actually does journalism has been buried. It all simply media now……including Fox

4:23PM PDT on May 22, 2013

For Chrissakes Paul we all KNOW Terrorism still exists. Obama can't convince us it doesn't exist. We see it on TV every day. And some of us don't even wait to see it on TV we know about it long before.

NO ONE I know thinks terrorism is gone. None of us are that stupid.

9:17AM PDT on May 22, 2013


9:15AM PDT on May 22, 2013


9:10AM PDT on May 22, 2013

Now we have proof that the WH also targeted other journalists at other news agencies, with NO threat to national security. It is MUCH more pervasive than originally thought. It isn't just the AP.

This seem to be a recurring theme of this administration as a threat ot any potential whistleblowers, or anyone who DARES to share bad press regarding this administration.

There is MUCH more coming out about Benghazi as well. This is a malaise that has plagued this WH for a few years now. Sickening how so many allow them to get away with trashing our rights. Pick any of the amendments, and bill of rights and this WH has found a way to either by-pass or ignore them.

The press has a responsibility to find the truth, not assist in any cover-ups. that is why freedom of the press was of primary concern to our founders. They are the watch dogs, but many these days are simply lap dogs. Without them, we rarely ever get answers or the truth, as the ONLY industry that gets the WH attention is the press. We have to require them to do a better job and stop ignoring critically important stories. Proven the stories are irrelevant, not just discard them as the bequest of the WH, fearing repercussion if they don't "tow the party line" being excluded form access and the parties, OH MY!!! can't have that.

How about some journalism? Where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins who take risks and sacrifice for the good of this country? We need an honest concerned media to survive.

11:42PM PDT on May 21, 2013

What a surprise!!! How long has this really been going on?

6:47PM PDT on May 21, 2013

I bet all of this is only the tip of the iceberg. Obamas thugs are trying to destroy this country

11:28PM PDT on May 20, 2013

Thank You for this article!

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