The Department of Justice illegally tracked twenty phone lines at the Associated Press in order to track down identity of a whistleblower. For years Glenn has highlighted how this administration went after whistleblowers – this sends a clear warning message to anyone thinking about ratting on the government. Glenn went through the latest scandal plaguing the administration on radio this morning.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and home phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.
“This administration is going after whistleblowers like there is no tomorrow. So there was a whistleblower they went after; they seized all of the records. Now the AP says that this is outrageous,” Glenn said.
“Now, will the press actually care? Because members of the press, it used to be just people like me. This is what we warned. When we asked the president ‑‑ the White House said that they were monitoring the communications of some members of the press, and I remember we called the White House: Could we find out who’s on that list? Are we on the list? Neither confirm, nor deny. And we were passed back from agency to agency. Okay. And I remember saying on the air, ‘Members of the press, don’t you care about this? You don’t care that they have said members, some members of the press are being monitored. You don’t have a problem with that?’ No. Well, now all of a sudden the AP has a problem,” Glenn said.
Glenn said he hoped this scandal prompts a wider investigation into what information is being gathered on American citizens, not just those in the press. He pointed to stories that have been out there for years where agencies like the NSA have been collecting information on private citizens.
“AP, you should be ashamed of yourself. All of a sudden you care. We have people, we have several sources that we have to meet with, and they have met with us at their own peril. They’re not talking about ‑‑ they’re not talking about just being fired. They’re talking about being fired, they’re talking about losing their life, losing their livelihood, losing their reputation, possibly going to jail for the rest of their life,” Glenn said.
“We used to have whistleblower protection laws. We don’t. We don’t anymore because the press will not cover it,” he continued. “This is not a game. This is not conspiracy stuff. This is stuff I grew up watching in movies. It’s happening, America. And the AP is worried about their phones being monitored or their records being taken for a month. ”