The recent hoopla over the Associated Press's phone record seizure brings up a couple of good questions.
- Should rights ever outweigh needs?
- Does having phone records seized even constitute as a violation of Freedom of Press?
AP and others are trying to make the case that the press can not operate freely if informants are afraid to give information to them, as their identities can not remain anonymous.
For the record, if you are in a sensitive position in the federal government, you are not free to share classified information with the press. Just because you are talking to the press, does not mean that you are protected by the rights of a free press. You still have a duty to your country.Taking a look at the second question first, "was the record seizure even a violation?". This case does not involve the AP being silenced by the feds. So this is definitely not a clear violation of their rights. Does this mean that it might be harder for AP to get future informants to come forward with information that they should not be sharing? Absolutely it does and for good reason. Information is classified for a reason and Freedom of Press has never meant that reporters are allowed access to sensitive information. That is the way of it.
Even if we all agree that the record seizure only makes it harder for news organizations to do a part of their job (that is in no way protected by Freedom of Press), that still leaves another important question. Should rights ever outweigh needs?
The AP is making the case that their right, outweighs America's need to be safe. What are the potential consequences of a trusted member of our government leaking information on an ongoing operation to take down a terrorist group? One potential consequence is that the lives of those involved in the operation could become compromised.
Who's To Blame? The AP is not being investigated and in no way are they at fault. Their informant is very much at fault and must be identified.
AP does need to grow up though. So their records were seized, so people might hesitate before they decide to share information that some of them should not be sharing. Those issues do not outweigh national security. More importantly, their ability to do their job has not diminished. They are still releasing news stories.
Side Note: I find it odd (not really), that so many Republicans who are typically seen as being tough on National Security, are the ones displaying a complete lack of concern for this national security breech. They need to stop their careless attempts to turn every issue into a scandal. They just look weaker as a result.