Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Reprint: FBI Tracking journalists' Phone Calls!

A great post by Joe Gandelman of the Moderate Voice. I reprint it here because it is very scary indeed.

FBI Is Reportedly Tracking Journalists' Phone Calls
by Joe Gandelman

Wasn't all of this surveillance supposed to be to hunt down terrorists? But that was SO YESTERDAY, you see...

Here's the latest example why when government is given a new power everyone should worry that they will use it in a way that was not officially proclaimed. File this in the If You Have The Power Why Not Use It As You Want Department:
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.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

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.

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.
Once again: this is something that would have been vehemently denied as a goal just a few months ago. But now it's apparently being done...because it can be done. And, politically it can be done because some of the administration's conservative supporters keep adjusting their former levels of outrage in terms of the power of big government (whatever the administration does must be OK because the administration does it):
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.
So, kiddies, the fact is:

It's not all just being done to get the foreign terrorist evildoers anymore. Now the tools are being used to go after leakers who are blabbing unflattering stuff to journalists.

Who's next?


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