If you can't trust your friends, who can you trust?
An indication of just how extensive was the Justice Department leak investigations, it appears that even the New York Times was not immune from this administration's mania to track down reporters who broke stories they didn't like:
Even before the F.B.I. conducted 550 interviews of officials and seized the phone records of Associated Press reporters in a leak investigation connected to a 2012 article about a Yemen bomb plot, agents had sought the same reporters' sources for two other articles about terrorism.
In a separate case last year, F.B.I. agents asked the White House, the Defense Department and intelligence agencies for phone and e-mail logs showing exchanges with a New York Times reporter writing about computer attacks on Iran. Agents grilled officials about their contacts with him, two people familiar with the investigation said.
And agents tracing the leak of a highly classified C.I.A. report on North Korea to a Fox News reporter pulled electronic archives showing which officials had gained access to the report and had contact with the reporter on the day of the leak.
The emerging details of these and other cases show just how wide a net the Obama administration has cast in its investigations into disclosures of government secrets, querying hundreds of officials across the federal government and even some of their foreign counterparts.
The result has been an unprecedented six prosecutions and many more inquiries using aggressive legal and technical tactics. A vast majority of those questioned were cleared of any leaking.
Why all the investigations and prosecutions? Prosecuting government employees who leak information to the press is proper, unless the leaks reveal government wrongdoing. Then the leaks fall under the whistleblowing statute which is supposed to protect government employees in those situations.
But the Obama administration has taken the leak plugging to the next level by seizing communications of journalists. In what is surely one of the most bogus indictments to come out of the Justice Department in a while, Fox News reporter James Rosen was actually indicted for doing his job; cultivating sources, gleaning information, and breaking important stories. The administration called that "solicitation" of espionage and then sought to hide the investigations until after the election by hoodwinking a judge into believing Rosen was some kind of flight risk.
Is there a "chill" on investigating the Obama White House? AP President Gary Pruitt thinks so. And there's no reason to doubt his judgments as more and more investigations of reporters are revealed.