|A genuine left-right coalition has developed over the past several days in response to the revelation that the Department of Justice seized Associated Press telephone records in its recent investigation of a CIA leak. And that coalition is likely to strengthen in light of the news that the DOJ investigated the reporting activities of Fox News’s chief Washington correspondent as a potential crime—“solicitation” of leaks. The latter development, in many senses more troubling than the former, calls into question whether basic protections for both reporters and whistleblowers are crumbling after more than a decade of Patriot Act abuses, Bush and Obama administration excesses and the politicization of debates about what were once accepted standards for protecting the public’s right to know and the privacy rights that underpin it.
They get that the revelations about DOJ overreach reveal a threat not just to freedom of the press but to the most necessary of press functions: the work of revealing for citizens the details of what their government is doing in their name but without their informed consent. None of these members are foolish or casual in their approach; they understand that it is necessary for the government to protect against the leaking of information that could endanger people. But they also understand that it is possible to provide that protection within a constitutional context.
Perhaps most importantly, they get that the best way to protect the First Amendment guarantee of a free press is to protect the Fourth Amendment guarantee of privacy. Journalists do not need—and should not seek—an array of special protections to do their jobs. But journalists and their sources do need to know that information can be shared without the threat of unwarranted—and self-serving—government surveillance of necessary conversations.
It is with this in mind that four very different members of Congress (Michigan Republican Justin Amash, South Carolina Republican Mick Mulvaney, California Democrat Zoe Lofgren and Colorado Democrat Jared Polis) have proposed a precise and appropriate response to the overreach by the Department of Justice. While the White House and key members of the Senate are backing a Shield Law, which protects journalists from being required to reveal sources, the House members are going deeper—to protect not just journalists but all citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” They seek a Telephone Records Protection Act, which requires court approval when the government demands telephone records from service providers.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010—As it makes live feed available, BP admits oil flow worse than claimed:
|So what might be motivating BP to concede their claim of 5,000 barrels per day was wrong? Perhaps the fact that they have finally posted a live feed of the oil gushing from the main leak.
In my experience watching the feed, it's had some technical hiccups, but I was able to watch about five minutes before the video screen went black. It's incredibly disturbing -- clouds of oil billowing from the site of the leak, at times appearing far, far worse than the initial video BP released.
The fact that BP now claims to be siphoning off 5,000 barrels per day but the flow of oil appears to be as bad as ever tells you just how massive this leak is. CBS was the first news organization to get its hands on the live feed and showed it to Purdue Professor of Mechanical Engineering Steven Werely. He estimates that nearly 100,000 barrels -- 4 million gallons or an Exxon Valdez every three days -- is still spewing from the leak.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, the day's news was dominated by Oklahoma. But Greg Dworkin's not just a pundit rounder-upper, he's an expert in disaster prep, too. Once again, disaster reminds us that teachers are often first responders, and that first responders are unionized, public employees. Also: more wacky gun news, and Utah's gun-toting teachers. Then, an update on the 3D printing issue, a story about "Colorado's deadliest neighborhood," and an investigation into the disciplinary records of Atlanta area school resource officers. Finally, a note from sfbaytransplant seeking clarification in reporting of the "unanimous confirmation" of the new Energy Secretary.