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Justice Dept. Admits to Tapping the Phones of Some AP Reporters

| On 14, May 2013

Department of Justice Eric Holder attorney general phone records Associated Press AP reporters

Atty. General Eric Holder has some explaining to do about tapping phone records. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

What is really going on in the uppermost reaches of government this week?

In addition to the revelation that the IRS has been picking on Tea Party groups, we now learned that another area of government has also seemingly been up to no good.

The Justice Department revealed on Monday that they secretly tapped the phone records of approximately 20 reporters at the Associated Press. This surveillance included their work, home, and personal cell phones in early 2012.

The department didn’t give an exact reason for the tapping. However, it’s believed to be related to a leak of classified information in the foiled terror plot in Yemen, according to MSNBC. The U.S. attorney that revealed the tapping is also looking into the Yemen leaks in a separate case. In a nutshell, the Justice Department has had an issue with protected information leaking to the press. Tapping AP phones could have been a way to find out who shared the information.

Let’s be clear. The Justice Department is within its jurisdiction to tap the phone lines of the media. Sometimes the media are given a heads-up about this — though it is not required. This usually happens on a limited basis to only a few people at a time. Watchdog groups and Congress are crying foul because of the scope of this tapping operation. Twenty phone sources is a lot. The Justice Department notified the AP after the tapping had already been done (which is allowed per their regulations).

The optics of this “scandal” aren’t the greatest for the Justice Department. However, it does seem as if they were within their legal rights. I’m interested to know exactly why they tapped these lines, if it wasn’t because of the terror plot in Yemen.

Where is Olivia Pope (from ABC’s ‘Scandal’) when you need her?!

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