Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Strictly targeted

Earlier in the week, President Bush responded to reports that his administration was collecting and mining traffic data on every phone call made in the United States by saying that the programme "strictly target[s] al Qaeda and its known affiliates". Meanwhile, ABC news has had a warning from its sources:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) 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.

So much for strict targeting. And if they're doing this to the media, anyone want to speculate on how long it will be before we learnt hat they're doing it to Democrats as well...?


I wonder if this is an attempt by the government to find out who leaking classified information to particular news organisations.

All governments seem to have this problem and NZ is not immune.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/16/2006 12:07:00 PM

Anon: I expect so - but they're hardly Al Qaeda, are they? More importantly, its simply illegal; the US has strong protections for journalists' confidential sources, and there's an explicit precedent which bars them from trawling journalists' phone records simply because they want to investigate a leak. Details here.

US Courts can compel journalists to reveal their sources, but that would require a strong argument and the government would effectively be admitting that the content of the story was true 9something the US does not want to do over waterboarding, black sites, rendition, torture, wiretapping...) So instead, the Bush Administration is doing an end run around the judiciary and US law to gather the information illegally. I just hope that whoever is responsible goes to jail for it...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/16/2006 12:38:00 PM