Slatest PM: DOJ Seized AP Reporters' Phone Records

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 13 2013 5:16 PM

Slatest PM: DOJ Seizes AP Reporters' Phone Records, Won't Say Why

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a Justice Department’s Law Day event May 1, 2013 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The DOJ vs. the AP: Associated Press: "The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a 'massive and unprecedented intrusion' into how news organizations gather the news. The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters."

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The AP's Best Guess: "The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States. In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP's source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."

Happy Monday and welcome back to the Slatest PM, follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

Obama on IRS: Washington Post: "President Obama on Monday described the reported targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service as 'outrageous' and intolerable, and he called for those responsible to be held 'fully accountable.' Speaking to reporters at a joint news conference with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama said he first learned about the issue Friday from news reports. He said the IRS must be perceived to operate with 'absolute integrity' to give the public confidence that it is applying the law 'in a nonpartisan way.' ... Obama addressed the issue amid a growing furor on Capitol Hill over revelations that the Internal Revenue Service used ostensibly political criteria in scrutinizing groups applying for tax-exempt status."

Obama on Benghazi: NBC News: "President Barack Obama on Monday derided the controversy over inter-agency talking points drafted in the wake of last year’s Benghazi attack, saying that charges of a politically motivated cover-up are a 'sideshow' and little more than a 'political circus.' ... 'The whole thing defies logic,' Obama said at a White House event with British Prime Minister David Cameron. 'And the fact that this whole thing keeps getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.'"

Boehner on Benghazi: ABC News: "News of the Obama Administration’s role in the extensive editing of CIA talking points on Benghazi rocked the political world last week and prompted a demand from Speaker of the House John Boehner for the release of all related White House emails, but it should not have been a revelation to the Speaker. The White House first briefed the House leadership on the talking point revisions on March 19. The briefing was given to the House Intelligence Committee, but the White House also invited Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to attend or to send a senior staff member. Boehner did not attend, but he did send staff, according to the Speaker’s office. Those attending the closed briefing were permitted to view the emails, but not to copy them."

Judge Hints He's OK With Insanity Plea for James Holmes: Reuters: "A Colorado judge found 'good cause' on Monday to allow accused movie theater gunman James Holmes, who could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering 12 moviegoers last year, to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. But Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. stopped short of permitting Holmes' lawyers to enter a new plea, saying he would render a final decision by the end of the month after prosecutors have a chance to respond and he rules on the legal consequences of an insanity plea."

Western Retailers Under Pressure in Bengladesh: Wall Street Journal: "In the wake of a building collapse in Bangladesh that killed at least 1,127 garment workers, a group of Western retailers on Monday pledged to avoid substandard factories and the government opened the door to easier formation of unions. The question is whether companies and government officials will pay more than lip service to improving standards in Bangladesh, where clothing exports have been booming. A handful of major apparel companies committed to a ground-breaking five-year accord on safety standards in Bangladeshi factories on Monday. Hennes & Mauritz AB, Tesco, C&A, Calvin Klein parent PVH Corp., German retailer Tchibo and Primark, a European budget fashion chain owned by Associated British Foods, all said they signed the legally binding agreement, which prohibits retailers from manufacturing at factories that fail to meet safety standards and commits them to pay for necessary repairs and renovations."

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