Spying by the U.S. government on The Associated Press has struck fear in reporters' sources, the news agency's president and CEO said Wednesday.
Some long-time trustworthy informants are getting nervous when they have something to divulge, Gary Pruitt said in a speech at the National Press Club, accusing the Obama administration of having violated the First Amendment's shielding of journalists, with the foreseeable result that "the people of the United States will only know what the government wants them to know and that's not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment."
Pruitt said this indimidation of sources is not only hurting AP, but also other news organizations in the United States.
Between April and May 2012, the Justice Department secretly seized the records of 20 telephone lines assigned to the AP to find out who leaked information to the news agency.
The leak was related to an AP news story about how the government foiled an al-Qaeda plot in Yemen to blow up an airliner flying to the United States. "We felt the American public needed to know this story," Pruitt said.
The Justice Department's actions "could not have been more tailor-made to comfort authoritarian regimes that want to suppress their own news media," he said.
AP's chief also said the Obama administration has too much love of secrecy, a reference to recent revelations about National Security Agency programs to amass the telephone and Internet records of millions of users. EFE