2:27 PM CDT, June 12, 2013
A few weeks ago, the Obama administration found itself under attack from Republicans as well as journalists for its handling of an investigation of a leak to the Associated Press about an al-Qaida operation. It seems the Justice Department had gone to court to secretly obtain the records of all calls on some 20 phone lines used by AP reporters, allowing the FBI to know whom the reporters had been in communication with over several weeks.
House Speaker John Boehner was not happy. "If the Obama administration is going after reporters' phone records, they better have a damned good explanation," said his spokesman. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham warned, "We are beginning to criminalize journalism and I think that should worry us all."
Let's see: going to court to get a secret order for phone records that will expose all sorts of information the targets may not want the government to know? An outrage!
At least it was until the news came out that the National Security Agency has been doing the same thing for seven years -- not on 20 phones, but on every phone in America. Civil libertarians objected, but not Boehner. "There's not American who's going to be snooped on in any way unless they're in contact with some terrorists somewhere around the world." Graham: "I don't mind Verizon turning over records to the government."
If the government goes after a few phone records, these Republican stalwarts see a threat to our liberties. But somehow they feel a lot better if it goes after all our phone records.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC