Spying on the press?  But they’re his friends for cryin’ out loud!

In what is being called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” of government power against the press, the Associated Press is reporting that the Department of Justice (DOJ) secretly obtained two months worth of telephone records of reporters and editors at the news organization, including the personal phone records of individuals.

Via the AP:

The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.

In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.

In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.

“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.

The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.

Were specific reporters being targeted for specific messaging purposes?  The PJ Tatler reports:

The DoJ notified the AP on Friday but included no explanation for the seizure.

It included phone numbers for five reporters and an editor who were involved in this May 7, 2012, story on the thwarting of a new underwear bombing plot.

The plot was significant because the White House had told the public it had “no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden’s death,” the AP noted today.

Which begs the question – Why is the White House so hell bent on covering up any story that may involve the concept of terrorism?

Meanwhile, the National Press Club is demanding an explanation.  Via Yid:

In the wake of reports today that the Justice Department secretly obtained phone records of several of AP’s reporters and four of its offices, the National Press Club requests that the Obama administration publicly explain the reasons behind the action.

“This appears to be a gross violation of press freedom,” said National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane, a Bloomberg News reporter. “If there’s a good explanation for this, the public has a right to hear it promptly.”

The Benghazi scandal was swept under the rug because it hurt the American military and targeted Obama’s foreign policy.  The IRS scandal was swept under the rug because it targeted conservatives and reiterated Obama’s Chicago-style politics.  Until recently anyway.

But this scandal targets the President’s friends in the media.  Will they finally relent and accept that this is one of the most corrupt administrations in history?