Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Opinion

May 17, 2013

OUR VIEW: Seizure of AP phone records insult to independent press

BATESVILLE — Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.

This amounts to spying on an American news organization -- common practice in dictatorships but scary conduct in a democratic system that prizes the public value of an independent watchdog press.

What makes this case so egregious is the Justice Department went about securing an array of  phone records from at least 20 AP phone lines, including reporters and editors personal cellphones, without allowing the news agency an opportunity to object.

Furthermore, it violates the department’s 30-year-old subpoena guidelines requiring it to make “every reasonable effort to obtain through alternative means” information that might be included in the media’s phone records.

The Justice Department’s explanation that it complied with national security laws, and limited its review of last year’s April and May records to the phone numbers of the callers and not the content of the calls, is thin cover for this affront to the free press clause of the First Amendment.

The motive for wanting to know who talked to the AP is clear but it is also irresponsible. Justice Department sleuths were hell-bent on hunting down the confidential sources for the May 7, 2012, AP story about a CIA operation to stop an airliner bomb plot in Yemen.

Why this obsession with nailing the leakers? The story was an embarrassment to the president, who had assured the American people there was no credible terrorist threat last May, around the time of the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The AP held the story for several days when told by the White House it would interfere with intelligence gathering. But after assurances any national security risk had passed, the news agency published the story. The Justice Department hound dogs were close behind.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Reader disagrees with senator Reader disagrees with senator Dear Editor, Senator Coats, a recent editorial titled, "Freeing Hoosier job creators," described your Sound Regulation Act. You said, "The bill would require every federal agency to engage in an extensive analysis to d

    April 15, 2014

  • Remembering those who defend our freedom When we send out our presession surveys each year, they generally show that Hoosiers are concerned with issues such as jobs and education, and rightfully so. While veterans' issues may not immediately come to mind as a pressing concern, many people w

    April 15, 2014

  • Moving up economic ladder begins in childhood New national research reveals that America is still a land of opportunity, but many Indiana communities rank poorly in fostering upward economic mobility for children and youth. According to Harvard University's Equality of Opportunity Project, despi

    April 8, 2014

  • Modest achievements for Gov. Pence INDIANAPOLIS - We aren't quite to the halfway point of Gov. Mike Pence's term, but he's now through his second Indiana General Assembly session and this week signed into law the state's first Pre-Kindergarten program, cut the corporate tax, and provi

    April 8, 2014

  • From the mayor Libraries are vital to communities WHEREAS, libraries help lives change in their communities, campuses and schools; WHEREAS, librarians work to meet the changing needs of their communities, including providing resources for everyone and bringing ser

    April 8, 2014

  • Hunters harvest less deer in 2013 It looks as if the 2013 season is coming in as the eighth best season for Indiana deer hunters. Statistics show hunters harvested fewer deer in the 2013 season than in each of the previous five seasons. Hearing the annual tally might be sobering new

    April 1, 2014

  • Salute military youth, too WHEREAS, thousands of brave Americans have demonstrated their courage and commitment to freedom by serving the armed forces of the United States of America in active duty posts in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world; and WHEREAS, more than 19,000

    March 28, 2014

  • Retired baker grateful to customers Retired baker grateful to customers Dear Editor, Forty-one years ago I had a dream to open a cake shop. My three boys were young so I was only able to do cakes as a hobby. I baked and decorated cakes for 20 years after working a full-time job outsid

    March 25, 2014

  • Many OA high points this year Many OA high points this year Dear Editor, On behalf of the entire Oldenburg Academy family, I wish to say thank you to the Batesville/Oldenburg community, businesses, families, alums and various well-wishers whose support and encouragement meant so

    March 25, 2014

  • Letter to the editor Ziemke out of tune with constituents Dear Editor, In The Herald-Tribune article "Legislators reveal their thoughts on HJR-3" Feb. 21, our legislators revealed the reasoning for their votes on HJR-3, which would have amended the state Constitution to

    March 18, 2014