Ah, yes, "National
Security Letters," we learned of them last year. How handy they've
become for the president. They're not signed or authorized by a judge. They
come from Big Bush himself. Then the telco, after receiving the NSL,
hands over a person's phone records, but doesn't have to tell the customer he
or she (or they) is being "tracked."
The Patriot Act in action. Aiding Big Bush to spy on American
journalists so that newsmen and women can't deliver the facts to us.
You'd think now is the time someone in the media would stand up
and scream about the bloody murder of the First Amendment, not to mention the
free press and the very core of our democracy. That maybe turning our country
back towards the dark ages of antidemocratic government from whence our Founders
fled isn't the way to fight terrorism, let alone inspire democracy around the world.
Under the NSLs, whistleblower status just became another quaint
notion from the past. The public's interest served less by this government skullduggery.
However, that's not stopping Russ
Tice, who will be talking
What Brian Ross of ABC news revealed yesterday
is enough to make you long for carrier pigeons again.
The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly seeking reporters'
phone records in leak investigations.
"It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer
is in the Bush administration," said a senior federal official.
But FBI officials did not deny that phone records of ABC News, the New York
Times and the Washington Post had been sought as part of a investigation of
leaks at the CIA.
Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the
Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information with what are called National
Security Letters (NSL).
The NSLs are a version of an administrative subpoena and are not
signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving a NSL for phone
records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records
have been given to the government.
Acknowledges: Journalists Phone Records are Fair Game (emphasis added)
Brian Ross was interviewed
on the Ed Schultz show. It's a sobering exchange.
Ross: Well, you know there’s not a lot we know about. I mean, what
we reported is that we have been warned they’re tracking the calls and
they know who we’re calling, with a suggestion, change your phones.
How they’re doing that, I’m not sure. This seems to have been
triggered by our story along with that of the Washington Post about the secret
prisons run by the CIA in Europe. At that point, there was a referral by the
CIA to the Department of Justice, they call it a criminal referral which usually
triggers a FBI investigation. They want to know how classified information
became public, and they will go after the CIA person. They don’t go
after reporters with criminal charges, generally, but they do go after the
CIA people if they can find them. Revealing classified information, they could
be charged with something as serious as espionage. So, once that investigation
begins, I always assumed that they would probably be checking out who we called
or who called us. And, uh, based on what we’ve been told, it seems like
that certainly is what happened. … …
BR: I do. I think this has reached a kind of tipping point within the government.
People who have been upset about it take some comfort that others share their
feelings and we’re starting to get more feedback from others inside,
including this official who warned us to be careful.
By all means, prosecute the CIA whistleblower, but let President Bush and Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales, as well as Deadeye and Rummy, who sanctioned and institutionalized
torture, and still haven't brought the right people
to trial, off the hook.