Flikr Attorney General Eric HolderThe Justice Department has obtained two months of secret phone records for Associated Press journalists, in what the news company said was likely due to a May 7, 2012, story on a thwarted terror plot.
The May 7, 2012 story deals with the CIA’s thwarting of an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen’s plot to detonate an upgrade of the so-called “underwear bomb” on a U.S.-bound airliner. The attack was set to occur on the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.
John Brennan, who is now the CIA Director, said in testimony in February that the release of information to the Associated Press was an “unauthorised and dangerous disclosure of classified information.”
According to its article last year, the AP learned about the CIA’s foiling of the plot the week before the Obama administration was going to announce it publicly. It ended up publishing the story a day before the Obama administration announced it publicly, despite protests from the administration to wait for an official announcement.
In its report today, the AP said that the Justice Department’s seizure of phone records included five reporters and an editor involved in the May 7, 2012 story.
From the AP:
In the letter notifying the AP received Friday, the Justice Department offered no explanation for the seizure, according to Pruitt’s letter and attorneys for the AP. The records were presumably obtained from phone companies earlier this year although the government letter did not explain that. None of the information provided by the government to the AP suggested the actual phone conversations were monitored.
Among those whose phone numbers were obtained were five reporters and an editor who were involved in the May 7, 2012 story.
The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to the media and has brought six cases against people suspected of leaking classified information, more than under all previous presidents combined.
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