Tuesday, May 14, 2013

DANGER WILL ROBINSON! AP Secret Phone Subpoenas Attack on Writers Everywhere

It is not often that one sees something that truly is a threat to our freedoms. But when

we see it, all of us have an obligation to stand up, speak out, and demand that those responsible be held accountable.

A news story broke yesterday that is as much a threat to freedom in this country as anything that has happened in my lifetime.  Last year the Department of Justice secretly obtained the phone records of three offices of Associated Press in Washington, D.C., New York City and Hartford, Connecticut, for the months of April and May, 2012.  This meant the phone records of more than 100 reporters

But the DOJ went even further. It obtained the personal cell phone records of 5 reporters and an editor for AP in Washington. 

And it went even further.  Among the phone records obtained were those of the Media Room in the Capital Building, which are used by nearly every reporter on Capital Hill.

The intent?  It seems clear that the intent was not a criminal investigation.  The clear purpose was intimidation.  It was sending a message to every potential source in Washington, D.C -- any potential source anyplace - that the government is watching.  If you are talking to a reporter, WE will know.

Not since the days of Richard Nixon has there been such an assault on the rights of the media.  In fact, I'm not sure Nixon even went this far.

This overbroad, overreaching intrusion by the government, by the supposed Department of Justice, into the workings of one of oldest, largest and most respected news gathering organizations in the world, is an affront to every value embodied by the First Amendment.

Crumbling First Amendment rights?*
The DOJ did not even follow its own rules about subpoenaing the media.  Because of the potential for intrusion on the First Amendment, the DOJ has very specific guidelines about subpoenaing the media.  This includes attempting to obtain information from other sources, limiting the scope of any subpoena as much as possible, and providing prompt notice to the media entity being subpoenaed. 

None of that was done here.

These phone records include every phone call.  They include calls with every source the AP deals with.  There is speculation that this subpoena was prompted by the AP's scoop on the US thwarting an Al Queda plot to blow up an airliner.  But there were no such restriction on the subpoena.  The records obtained by the DOJ included every phone call with every source;  every whistle-blower reporting misconduct in the government; every person trying to air information the government is trying to hide; every confidential source protected from disclosure by state laws; even every phone call the reporters had with their spouses and kids.

What are these guys thinking?  What values do they hold?  Do they understand anything about the Constitution?  Do they understand that it is their job to "protect and defend" the Constitution, not to bring it down?

Every writer needs to stand up against this.  Whether you are a journalist, a blogger, write non-fiction or even fiction, you need to stand up against this intrusion into the First Amendment.

We all need to stand up against Big Brother deciding it doesn't like what you write, and therefore start snooping into where you get your information.

I am sickened.

*photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cyberandy/40386773/">CyberAndy</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Monday, May 6, 2013

Harper Lee Sues Agent for Stealing Copyright for "To Kill A Mockingbird"

Harper Lee, the nearly-reclusive author of To Kill A Mockingbird, has sued a literary agent over the handling of the copyright to her classic of American literature.

Miss Lee filed suit in Federal District Court in New York asserting that Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of Lee's longtime agent, Eugene Winick, failed to properly protect the copyright after her long-time agent became ill.  The lawsuit claims that Pinkus took advantage of Miss Lee's poor eyesight and hearing and had her assign the copyright to a company controlled by Pinkus.

One can only hope that Miss Lee finds her own real-life Atticus Finch to protect her interest in her only published novel.

For more details, CLICK HERE

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/scatterkeir/1457561483/">scatterkeir</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>