FBI Picks Up DC Reporter on Phone Tap

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WUSA Reporter Bruce Johnson has found out that he was picked up on an FBI wiretap of now-disgraced DC Councilman Michael Brown.

Federal prosecutors informed our Johnson that he -- and many other people -- had their communications picked up on FBI wiretaps. 

"I'm not going to be surprised if I call someone at some point in the near future and they say 'I can't talk to you because the FBI might be listening,' said Johnson, laughing through his very real concern. "Bottom line, of course it's unsettling when you get a call saying the FBI has heard part of your conversation in the course of you doing your job."

The US Attorney's Office emailed Johnson that while tapping Brown's phone, "wire and/or electronic communications to or from your telephone were intercepted." "They won't tell me when the phone call was made," says Johnson. "They won't say how long the phone call was, they won't say the nature of the conversation."

Justice Department rules do offer journalists a little extra protection if they are the target of a wiretap but in this case, it was Brown they were after. 

"My question is, I'm a journalist. I'm asking the same questions they're asking. So how to they categorize my conversation with Michael Brown. I want to know about the investigation. I want to know about the charges, same as the FBI and every other reporter. So why wouldn't they listen to my phone conversation?"

Bill Miller, spokesman for US Attorney Ron Machen, says at the time of the wiretap no one outside his office and the FBI knew about the investigation.

Months later, Brown pleaded guilty to tens of thousands of dollars in bribes handed over in bundles and stuffed into coffee mugs.