Blog Buzz: Harsh Reactions to Seizure of AP Phone Records

The blogosphere is none too pleased about the Justice Department collecting reporters' phone records.

The screen on a phone console at the AP.

The Department of Justice's secret subpoena of the phone records of Associated Press reporters has given Congress momentum to rehash its quest for a federal shield law.

By + More

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones says it's about time journalists start paying attention to how the government monitors communication:

The government has been obtaining phone records like this for over a decade now, and it's been keeping their requests secret that entire time. Until now, the press has showed only sporadic interest in this. But not anymore. I expect media interest in terror-related pen register warrants to show a healthy spike this week.

That could be a good thing. It's just too bad that it took monitoring of journalists to get journalists fired up about this.

Joe Klein of Swampland said the incident is different than past probes for journalists to reveal their sources, because journalists weren't given an option whether or not to disclose the phone records:

The question is, how was this different from previous government attempts to track down inside sources who leaked secrets – as in the Valerie Plame/Scooter Libby fracas during the Bush Administration?

There is one glaring difference. In the Plame case, the Justice Department subpoenaed the records of the journalists who reported the story – Matt Cooper, then of TIME, was one – and those journalists had the option of given up their records or going to jail. That's the way it has worked in the past. There is a disputed grey line within First Amendment rights – journalists have a responsibility to protect our sources, government has a responsibility to protect classified information (such as the identities of the CIA's non-official cover operatives like Valerie Plame). It isn't pleasant, and there are legitimate differences about where First Amendment rights end and national security begins, but it is open and straightforward process.

Ed Morrissey of Hot Air noted the plethora of issues facing the Obama administration this week, saying "It's difficult to keep up with Scandal-o-Rama these days, isn't it?":

This is less about hiding what has already happened and keeping the AP and other media outlets from working with people in the know for what happens later. They want potential sources to know that Big Brother will find them regardless of a reporter's promise to keep their identities confidential. They want reporters to know that they're being watched. The Obama DoJ isn't interested in justice; they want to impose their political will without effective opposition.

I wonder if the media will start connecting dots between this and Benghazi, and the IRS scandals, and Operation Fast and Furious, and …

John Hayward at Red State said all the scandals show there is a broader theme present in the Obama administration:

 It's easy to talk about accountability when you know you'll never be forced to eat your words at the ballot box buffet.

Obama's vision of the total State requires an enormous level of trust from populace. The whole idea is to trade liberty for security, which the Founding Fathers did not view as a wise transaction. The State is supposed to be wiser, more compassionate, and more accountable than those horrid private-sector robber barons. People must be protected from both the ambitions of others, and the consequences of their own decisions.

  • Read Peter Roff: Cleveland Kidnapping Shows More Must Be Done for Kidnapped Children
  • Read Noah Kristula-Green: Japan's Shinzo Abe and Dangerous World War II Revisionism
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad