Justice Department Seized AP Phone Records

The AP reports:

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 outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. It was not clear if the records also included incoming calls or the duration of the calls.

In all, the government seized the 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 where phone records were targeted, on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

The Justice Department notified the AP on Friday.  More reporting from The Hill and ThinkProgress explains why DoJ wanted these records.

UPDATE: More from BLT here. It’s important to note that this is not the first time the federal government has obtained phone records in this manner.  It is, however, one of the few (if only times) the seizing of such records has become public.

UPDATE: And be sure to see Orin’s post above.