ABC News reports that one purpose of the Bush administration’s domestic spying program might well be to keep tabs on the media:
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we [i.e., reporters] call in an effort to root out confidential sources.
Administration officials, of course, continue to insist that the NSA is “narrowly designed,” used only to track “terrorists,” rather than, say, reporters or political opponents. And “reasonable”-minded analysts and pundits continue to assure everyone that the NSA doesn’t have the time or the resources to intimidate the media or engage in political warfare. But there’s every reason to think the officials are lying, while the analysts and pundits are terribly naïve.
Look: The president has previously said that the NSA program was only focused on international calls—before the USA Today story broke and we learned he was lying about the program. John Negroponte previously told reporters that the NSA was “absolutely not” monitoring domestic calls—he was lying too. Dick Cheney wanted to piss all over the Constitution and engage in large-scale domestic spying after 9/11. By all accounts he didn’t get what he wanted, but then again, “all accounts” have usually underestimated the amount of law-breaking going on. So yes, it’s entirely possible that the administration is spying on the press, or worse.