In January, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell asked James Risen, the New York Times author who disclosed the NSA wiretapping program, whether CNN’s Christiane Amanpour had been eavesdropped upon.
MITCHELL: Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net?
RISEN: No, I don’t. It’s not clear to me. That’s one of the questions we’ll have to look into [in] the future. Were there abuses of this program or not? I don’t know the answer to that.
MITCHELL: You don’t have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?
RISEN: No, no I hadn’t heard that.
The question-and-answers were soon deleted from NBC’s website, but NBC did confirm that it was conducting an inquiry into whether reporters had been targeted. CNN’s David Ensor received an official response from the NSA:
I’m told considerable manhours today went into making sure the answer to CNN would be accurate. A senior US intelligence official tells use that our colleague Christiane Amanpour has never been targeted by the National Security Agency, and nor has any other CNN journalist. Now, the NSA as you know is the eavesdropping intelligence agency, the US government’s big ear, and from time to time, the official says, wiretaps overseas or other intercepts turn out to include Americans, or what they call ‘US persons’, which includes people who works for US companies, it does so inadvertently.
The response Ensor received from the NSA related specifically to eavesdropping — i.e., the monitoring of the contents of a phone call. According to a report today from ABC’s Brian Ross the government is tracking reporters’ phone records — but not the contents of their phone calls — in an effort to root out confidential sources. If the ABC story is true, it raises the question of whether Amanpour’s — or any other journalist’s — phone records were monitored by the government.