Spying on the AP?

By: Juana Carrasco Martín

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2013-05-16 | 14:09:40 EST
There’s nothing new under the sun in domestic espionage in the United States. But this time the President – in this case Barack Obama - and his secretaries have gotten into swampy terrain. Although it has become usual that they are always the ones accusing other nations of violating the freedom of the press and speech, now they are the ones being accused; and they are actually guilty this time.
The Republicans, whose last president George W. Bush, Jr., approved the Patriot Act thus turning the State into the police of the people and protected by the endless war against terrorism; are now demanding the demission of Attorney General Eric Holder for violating the freedom of press and the Constitution.
The reason: the scandal recently uncovered after it was discovered that his Department had access or spied on the telephone records of journalists and offices of the US’ and the world’s largest news agency, the Associated Press (AP), in New York, Washington and Harford.
 The spirit of Watergate lingers over Washington DC again; although this time the Democrats are the criminals. Back then, the “plumbers” were mercenaries of Cuban origin – who were also terrorists-, spying on the Democrat National Committee on the orders of the Republicans. Now, it is the Republican National Committee the one that hypocritically issues statements like this one by Reince Priebus:
“Freedom of the press is an essential right in a free society. Attorney General Eric Holder, in permitting the Justice Department to issue secret subpoenas to spy on Associated Press reporters, has trampled on the First Amendment and failed in his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution.”
 The scandal started when Holder’s Department wanted to find out how and who was leaking information to AP about an anti-terrorist investigation of the CIA in Yemen in 2012 involving Al-Qaeda’s plans to put a bomb in a US-bound plane. AP information of the matter is dated May 7, 2012.
And all hell broke loose. Now they are looking for someone to blame. For example, Jay Carney, the president’s spokesperson, said in a press briefing Tuesday that President Obama had found out about the denouncements through the media on Monday. "The president believes that the press as a rule needs to have an unfettered ability to pursue investigative journalism. He is also committed, as president and as a citizen, to the proposition that we cannot allow classified information, that can do harm to our national security interests or do harm to individuals, to be leaked," Carney said.
Carney declined to futher comment on the subject deeming it inapropriate at that moment. However; he did stress that President Obama believed there should be a balance between the unfettered exercise of journalism and the obligation to protect national security.
According to a statement from the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder has rescued himself because he had been interviewed about a governmental investigation on the aforementioned article from the AP.
 So, to make his “innocence” clear, the statement by the Attorney General stated he had assigned the case of the phone records to Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole, turning him into the scapegoat of a scandal AP’s president and CEO Gary Pruitt has described as “a massive and unprecedented intrusion.”
The scandal may have reached the Congress and it is likely it will be the subject of a Congress debate, where the forces are divided with the Senate being controlled by the Democrats and the House of Representatives being controlled by the Republicans.
President of the House Committee on the Judiciary at the Senate, Patrick Leahy, said on Tuesday he was very concerned over the allegations. Forn his part, the president of the House Committee on the Judiciary at the House of Representatives Robert Goodlatte has said he would ask Holder for answers in a hearing scheduled for Friday May 17, in which Holder must appear.
This could be the tip of an iceberg or the first turn of the key to open Pandora’s Box. For the time being, some are hiding their heads in the sand.
 Translated by ESTI

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