In recent weeks the Department of Justice and the Obama Administration have been met with fierce criticism from all sides in their collection of phone records from the Associated Press as well as Fox News. According to the DOJ and the Obama administration these records were subpoenaed in search of finding a government leak in two different stories one by the AP and the other by a Fox News journalist. In total, records for at least 30 different phone numbers were obtained according to reports based on court records.
Both leak investigations were sparked by stories that had national security ramifications. One by Fox News journalist James Rosen over the North Korean nuclear program. The other about an active CIA intelligence operation in Yemen that led to the operation ending weeks before it was planned to end.
Without getting into an in depth analysis of each story lets take a look at the criticisms and their validity, as well as how this was able to happen in the first place.
Many in the world of journalism say the DOJ and the Obama Administration have gone way too far in their attempt to stop leaks coming from within the government. Many see this as a sign that our government has too much power and feel these cases have trampled on the right of a free press enshrined in our Bill of Rights. Also, many journalist say acts such as wiretapping and using subpoenas to collect phone records inhibits their ability to assure that their sources will not be compromised. These criticisms seem valid and justified in this case.
How did this happened in the first place?
The Obama administration has gone to far, not in terms of the law but in terms of public opinion. The law at the federal level does not prevent these kinds of actions when they pertain to national security. Also, this is not the first time this has been done by an administration, just the first time on such a large scale. This is in no way a justification, just proof this is an ongoing issue we must address.
What really is scandalous in the fact the President Obama has, in the past, said that journalist deserve and need protection from these kinds of actions by the federal government and its different agencies. Even pressed congress to pass a federal law protecting journalist from this. Yet, still lets his administration do the same thing he says we need to protect journalist from. Just because it is not against the law does not make it right.
In many states there are laws protecting journalist from the state government from obtaining their phone or other records in this manner. Some states may even require a court hearing. At the federal level there is no law extending this protection to journalist and if it is a matter of national security you can bet your dollar the federal government will be looking at your records. So it would appear that "We the People," the folks who should be running America, have decided, with good reason. this administration has gone to far on this issue and demand action to prevent it happening again.
If you feel this needs to be changed and should be prevented in the future, Senator Chuck Schumer plans to introduce just this kind of legislation to the Senate floor soon. So if you support a truly free press please contact your US House Rep. as well as your Senators and demand action now!