I was listening to NPR this morning. They were discussing privacy and government snooping in the electonic age. One of the things they brought up was the incident where the Justice Department asked for the telephone records of the Associated Press and other news organizations.
To read the flaming rhetoric of the anti-Obama crowd, that was some sort of press intimidation/revenge on those who spoke out against the government.
The truth is more complicated: The New York Times published a story detailing how the FBI and other agencies thwarted a plot by Al Qaeda to blow up an airplane on the anniversary of Usama bin Laden's death. The news story exposed the fact that the government knew what Al Qaeda was up to, and told Al Qaeda that there was an American mole in their organization.
So why the Federal Fuss over that leak?
First, the simple fact that someone had leaked sensitive information to the press.
Second, it told Al Qaeda that they needed to be even more careful what they told to whom and how they said it. The last time a news story did something like that was when the Times or some other paper (I forget which one) said the American government had listened in on Bin Laden's sattelite cellular telephone, which was relatively easy to do. When the story came out, Al Qaeda stopped using sattelite cell phones and information gathering got more difficult.
Third, it put an American spy in danger of being found-out and "dealt with," according to Al Qaeda's perverted interpretation of Sharia law.
The federal government wanted to know who the source of the information leak was, so they could close the leak and make their anti-terrorism efforts a little less difficult. The Associated Press refused to "reveal a source," so the government went looking for him/her the old fashioned way -- looking at all the AP's phone calls for a couple of months, figuring out which numbers belonged to whom and trying to find the information leaker by process of elimination.
Homeland Security laws, the Patriot Act and a Supreme Court ruling dating back to 1972, which said that any message passed through a "third party" -- including telephones and computer servers -- was not "private information" like a sealed letter, and thus open to snooping all said this was legal.
Well, there goes one more "Obama Scandal."