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Those AP Phone Records

I’m trying to be shocked by the story that the Department of Justice obtained several months worth of phone records from several Associated Press offices, including five reporters and an editor.

First, what we don’t know:

  • What was being investigated?
  • Did the investigators properly obtain a warrant for these records?
  • If so, was it as narrowly tailored as possible to fulfill the needs of the investigation?

We have some answers already. Those five AP reporters and one editor all contributed to a story last May about a foiled terror plot out of Yemen. The Obama Administration has made no secret about its animus toward leaks.

We do not yet know if a warrant was obtained or, more to the point, what was hoped to be obtained in that search. More importantly, we don’t know if any warrant was narrowly tailored to what was being investigated.

Once we have answers to those questions, we will know if this investigation was legal. The political implications, however, will be far more extensive and potentially insidious.

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