This second in the Trilogy involved the attack by the Obama administration on the First Amendment and in particular, the freedom of the press. There is some substance to this story, but it does NOT involve the Associated Press (AP). This will all be sorted out in what follows.
Because of the secrecy surrounding it, we can only guess that about two years ago, Britain’s counter-terrorism unit managed to successfully plant a spy in the midst of an Al Qaeda-affiliated group in Yemen. Over time, he learned of a plot to blow up a passenger-filled airliner en route from London to New York. This intelligence was passed along and subsequently the plan was foiled.
At some point thereafter, information on HOW the plot was short-circuited was leaked to two reporters at the AP. They assembled the facts as they knew them and prepared an article for publication. However, their higher-ups, in response to pleadings by our counter-terrorism agency, held off with publication for what amounted to one year, then went ahead and posted it.
What then followed became the focus of the “scandal”. Specifically, the phones of the two AP reporters were tapped and documents seized by the FBI. Was this because the news organization had done something wrong? No; it was because we needed to discover the source(s) of the original leaking (see above) since said leak was potentially a violation of federal law.
What is key here is the understanding that the AP did nothing wrong and was NOT under attack by the FBI or any other government agency. The sole purpose of the phone-tapping and collection of documents was to discover the identity of the leaker(s). In no sense was the AP’s freedom under assault, though that is the way all this was “played up” by the media who felt the need to protect themselves and their First Amendment rights.
If the Administration is to be faulted, it is in its surveillance of a Fox News reporter named James Rosen whose story is somewhat similar to that involving the AP, but with a BIG difference. Rosen was also the recipient of leaked information. But, what he got came nowhere near a violation of the law as was the case with the leak to the AP reporters. None the less, some of his records were seized and his phone tapped, both with the approval of Attorney General Eric Holder. Whatever the final outcome, at this juncture, and unlike the situation involving the AP, the Rosen story has the stench of significant government over-reach and abuse of power. If anyone’s head should roll over this imbroglio, it should be Holder’s.