Monday, May 15, 2006

Ay, there’s the rub
Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation. [Ed. – Imagine that, the government is actively investigating who is illegally passing classified information to whom; a situation where the passer and the passee are both criminals]

One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.

Our reports on the CIA's secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.

People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.

Under Bush Administration guidelines, it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers...

Interestingly, Brian Ross fails to mention that the Bush Administration guidelines are actually a reigning-in of Clinton Administration policy.
The current controversy follows a Times report that, since 9/11, U.S. intelligence agencies are eavesdropping at any time on up to 500 people in the U.S. suspected of conducting international communications with terrorists. Under Echelon, the Clinton administration was spying on just about everyone.
“The US National Security Agency (NSA) has created a global spy system, codename ECHELON, which captures and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world,”
Basically for Brian and Richard it came down to some good news and some bad news:

Good
The official who warned ABC News said there was no indication our phones were being tapped so the content of the conversation could be recorded.
Bad
A pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.

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