‘Phone tapping’ is the new birth certificate

Some people in Congress don’t know the controversies they’re trying to fan.

Take Rep. Michele Bachmann, for example, who has sent out an email today saying “Americans deserve the truth.”

Who ordered the political witch hunt by the IRS against Tea Party groups, Pro-Israel, Conservative, and Christian organizations? Who ordered no military response in Benghazi? Who ordered journalist phone lines to be tapped? Who ordered the EPA to provide more waivers to green-leaning groups over conservative ones?

The answer to one of those question is “nobody,” because nobody’s phones were tapped. Seizing of phone records is not the same as “tapping” a phone.

Earlier this week Congressman Devin Nunes got bloggers excited when he claimed the Obama administration had tapped the Capitol.

“I don’t think people are focusing on the right thing when they talk about going after the AP reporters. The big problem that I see is that they actually tapped right where I’m sitting right now, the Cloak Room,” he told radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Jack Langer, Nunes, director of communication, noted the obvious mistake in the congressman’s assertion:

What Rep. Nunes meant by “tapped” was that the DOJ seized the phone records, as has been widely reported. There was a little confusion between him and the host during the conversation: He did not mean to refer to phone records of the cloakroom itself, but of the Capitol. This refers to the phone records for the AP from the House press gallery, which the DOJ admitted to looking at. He was explaining that if those phone records were seized, they would reveal a lot of conversations between the press and members of Congress, since reporters often speak to Members from the press gallery phones. The notion of the DOJ looking at phone records from the Capitol of conversations between Members of Congress and reporters is something that concerns Rep. Nunes, bringing up issues related to the separation of powers.

In other words, not only is there no story here since this is actually a story about accessing phone records of the Associated Press, there was no “tapping” going on.

That didn’t stop John Boehner from making the allegation during a news conference last week while outlining the list of grievances for which the White House should be investigated.

“You’ve got the Justice Department tapping the phones of those in the media,” Boehner said.

Sen. Rand Paul alleged Obama is “using the power of his government to investigate his enemies, he’s tapping the phones of the press…”

But they didn’t.

What the Justice Department did was obtain phone records of calls that had already been made to and from the Associated Press in April and May of 2012, in its effort to find out who leaked a story to the news cooperative.

Surely, “tapped” is an entirely difference matter, suggesting someone listening in to a conversation. That didn’t happen.