Justice Dept Obtaining AP Phone Records; Full Text Letter to Holder from AP

Today the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department illegally obtained two months of phone records from Associated Press reporters and editors across the various agency offices. From the AP story:

The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

During the implementation of the Patriot Act the opponents justified their disapproval for this sweeping government power by citing the future potential of abuse in federal agencies having the ability to obtain information that should remain private; information that the government could still obtain through the proper channels (i.e. warrants, subpoenas, etc.). Since the Patriot Act has been in full swing there has been remarkably little abuse of this power. Or maybe I am just the optimist. I had expected intrusions on a regular basis, especially with news groups attempting to protect confidential sources.

Naturally, the administration that thinks government has the power to take over whole industries would have no problem over-stepping the legal boundaries surrounding the first amendment and the protection it offers everyone. The only part that surprises me is that no matter how friendly you are to this administration they always regard you as a potential enemy. Think of how cooperative the AP has been with this administration. Yet they still regard them as an adversary. Can you imagine having to live like that? You even have to be ready to take down your friends.

AP Letter to Eric Holder

While everyone will write their own report on this story and add in their own two cents (like I did above), most wont publish the letter form the AP to Holder. They would rather just drive traffic to their site and give you the opinion they think you should have. Clicking the image will take you to the full letter via our DocStoc account. Comments are always welcome. (PDF direct download)

AP letter to Holder

Confidential: Department of Justice Phone Spying Guide.

Spying on people through their telephone is serious business. In doing so a federal agency must have rules and procedures in place. Those operating procedures are not often discussed in detail openly. Below you will find Eric Holder’s Department of Justice’s Telephone Spying Guide. This document is labeled as “Confidential” and the details are not supposed to be publicly disclosed. Click the image to bring you to the full document. I have a tie-in investigation that includes this report (and others) so my opinion on this document will be held until a later time.

US Court Report: Wiretaps increase 82%

A new report from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC), published on June 30, 2011, shows a dramatic across the board increase in approved wiretaps and interceptions. The briefing from the AOUSC can be found here.

While the total increase for state and federal shows only a 34% increase, approved wiretaps approved by federal judges in 2010 show an increase of 84% when compared to 2009 cases. (Raw Data Here) As shocking as the 84% increase is, one of the main reasons for this rise is even more troublesome. From the report:

“These increases were due, at least in part, to changes in reporting procedures and to enhanced AOUSC efforts to ensure that federal and state authorities were aware of their reporting responsibilities.”

Common sense rules. Basically, this number of wiretaps increased, in part, because authorities were not reporting them correctly. Most likely, they weren’t reporting them at all or they were misfiling them. Both scenarios are problematic. If these wiretaps, and the details of parties involved, were just misfiled then they may not have been treated as truly sensitive documents. But if they weren’t misfiled than how many of these wiretaps were obtained and conducted without proper permission?

While the vast majority of the country, regardless of political philosophy, has demanded increase in transparency regarding these affairs it offers little assurance for those in favor of privacy. Since this newest report shows such a dramatic up tick in approved wiretaps, and they admit the increase, in part, was due to confusion in reporting and approval procedure, shouldn’t the next step be a Congressional Investigation? In the spirit of transparency the next logical step would be to shine light on all the cases that were handled inappropriately. If they were handled wrong from the beginning it is entirely possible that the rest of the procedure(s) operated outside of the legal precedence afforded to investigators.