Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Monday, May 15, 2006

  Bush is spying on American journalists too

I learned this morning, without surprise I'm sorry to say, that the federal government is reportedly spying on the telephone calls made by journalists. From the blog 'The Blotter' at ABC News comes this item. The reporters are the eminent Brian Ross and Richard Esposito. If this does not send a chill down your spine, you have grown too accustomed to our nightmare years.

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation....

Under Bush Administration guidelines, it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers.

The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded.

A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.

We're all considered potential terrorists now, including and evidently especially journalists who report news found to be inconvenient to the administration. It just goes to prove what many of us have been shouting since December when one tip of the NSA spy scandal was exposed: When the President acts unconstitutionally, it's a mark of willful ignorance to pretend that it might be justified.

By a remarkable coincidence, Der Spiegel carries a report today on a similar scandal in Germany.

Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, has been breaking the law by gathering information about journalists and using fellow members of media as informants until quite recently. Now the government has cracked down to defuse a growing scandal....

retired federal judge Gerhard Schäfer had presented a report to a secret meeting of parliamentary controllers that suggested... the BND at times chooses not to obey law too rigorously when its hunger for knowledge became too intense.

The special investigator has described as clearly "unlawful" certain operations conducted by the agency, especially the surveillance since 1993 of various journalists in spying operations that in some cases went on for years and extended right into their private lives....

Schäfer, acting at the request of the parliamentary control committee, spent half a year examining an occurrence that had already embarrassed the BND last October: at the time the BND's leadership had to admit that it spent years running compliant journalists as sources and gathering information about critical reporters.

So in re-unified Germany, as in George Bush's Amerika, it is the breaking of news stories critical of the government that attracts the unwelcome caresses of the foreign spy agencies. If reporters would like to avoid the embrace, they'll have to learn how to stay away from certain kinds of news. I think we can agree that during the last five years, most of the loyal American journalists have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to ignore the wrong kind of news. I have little doubt they'll show themselves once again to be quick studies.


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