Apparently, there is a lot of outrage right now over the trampling of press freedoms occasioned by the FBI’s secret perusal of AP’s phone records.
The president of the Associated Press called it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into newsgathering activities, while Dana Milbank at the Washington Post reported today that the press corps at yesterday’s White House briefing was “incensed” over this “extraordinary abuse of power.”
Oddly enough, though, it was exactly seven years ago today that it became public knowledge that the Federal government tracks reporters’ phone records at will. The next day, a “senior federal official” told ABC’s Brian Ross, one of the targets, “It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration.”
The reason it was so easy was because a few years earlier, Congress had passed a law making it easy—the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, otherwise known as the USA Patriot Act.
I suppose it’s a good thing that they eventually found their spines, but really it shouldn’t take seven years and a Democratic president for the press to learn that patriotism is the first resort of scoundrels.