May 16, 2006

USA: Police State

And there you have it:
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.
If reporters cannot guarantee anonymity to their sources, there is no Free Press.

Josh Marshall weighs in:
If that's true, then I think we can set aside any pretense that administration policy on all manner of electronic surveillance isn't being brought to bear on political opponents, media critics, the press, everybody....

The folks around the president don't recognize any real distinctions among those they consider enemies. So we'd be foolish to think they wouldn't bring these tools to bear on all of them. Once you set aside the law as your guide for action and view the president's will as a source of legitimacy in itself, then everything becomes possible and justifiable.
Will this latest assault on the media itself be enough to wake the Fourth Estate from its self-induced coma? The San Francisco Chronicle editorial today calls it a government out of control:
"THEY HATE our freedoms,'' is one of President Bush's favored rallying cries in the war on terrorism.

More and more, the question is becoming: Which cherished freedoms, precisely, is Bush referring to? His administration's apparent disrespect for what most of us would regard as one of the most fundamental freedoms of all -- a right to privacy -- raises deep concerns about the self-inflicted erosion of our way of life by wide-scale government tracking of phone calls in the name of fighting terrorism.

Once again, Bush has suggested that law-abiding Americans have nothing to worry about. But he's wrong. Voices in both parties in Washington are rightly furious over this latest overstepping of governmental limits.

... Bush owes Americans more than glib assurances that our civil liberties are being "fiercely protected." A government keeping track of whom you call, and when you call them, would seem to define an assault on civil liberties.


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