A senior federal law enforcement official told ABC News that the “government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.” This news, in the wake of the report last week from USA Today that the NSA has a massive database of American’s phone calls, comes today via ABC News blog The Blotter…
“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.
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.
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.
The Bush Administration claims that “it is not considered illegal for the government to keep track of numbers dialed by phone customers.”
ABC reports that 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.” However, a “pattern of phone calls from a reporter, however, could provide valuable clues for leak investigators.”
UPDATE: John Marshall says on TalkingPoints Memo…
The piece is written in a roundabout sort of way. But if I understand it, Brian Ross is reporting at ABC news that the US government is tracking the calling patterns of political reporters to further their leak investigations.
If that’s true, then I think we can set aside any pretense that administration policy on all manner of electronic surveillance isn’t being brought to bear on political opponents, media critics, the press, everybody.