Tuesday, May 14, 2013

DOJ monitoring of AP phone records without warning raises questions about "whistleblowing" vs. "leaking"

Did the Department of Justice set a dangerous precedent by monitoring the phone records and communications of AP journalists?
It sounds as like the DOJ was pretty focused on a small issue, apparently the source of security leaks regarding terrorist activities (particularly an airplane plot) in Yemen or elsewhere in the Mideast. 
Journalists complain that the action will make other people less willing to talk to reporters in general for whistleblowing purposes.  But the DOJ is claiming that this is simply a matter of employees keeping their promises to safeguard classified information – from everyone.
Al Jazeera has a typical report here
A different problem could occur if an ordinary person – an “amateur” blogger – comes into contact with classified information “accidentally”.  It can happen.  Bloggers may not have the right to offer anonymity, and may have practical issues on when they need to go to authorities over real threats that they might stumble upon. 
CNN reports that there is a documentary in process called “War on Whistleblowers”.  Apparently it is produced by Robert Greenwald, who has produced many films for a company called Cinema Libre (I’ve reviewed many of his films over the years, especially during the Bush administration).  Greenwald seems to believe that the Obama administration is as dangerous as was Bush. 
Greenwald distinguishes between “whistleblowers” and “leakers”.  I’ll look up the film for review soon.  

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