Is the NSA Monitoring Reporters?

This posting is a very preliminary report by ABC News that federal law enforcement is monitoring the calls of political reporters as part of the ongoing CIA leak investigation. The details are limited at this point and it’s unclear whether, if true, this monitoring is related to the NSA database of domestic phone calls. I will be eager to see where this story leads, but I have to say that this is the type of thing that could tilt the balance for me, and turn me into a critic of the NSA surveillance program. I am willing to support the Bush Administration’s use of wiretapping and tracking phone calls so long as it is narrowly focused on monitoring the communications of terrorists. While one can certainly argue that leaking classified information is a national security risk, it’s much more tangentially related to national security than phone calls among terrorists. It’s one thing to accidentally monitor the phone calls of a terrorist suspect who turns out to be innocent, but it’s another thing to specifically target reporters for surveillance. Again, this report is highly preliminary. But I thought it was worth pointing out that while I have been a defender of the NSA program and continue to be one, this is the type of thing that crosses the line for me.