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Column: The Justice Department’s Seizing of Associated Press Phone Records is Disgusting!

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Last time I checked, John Mitchell of the Nixonian era was no longer our Attorney General.

But you’d be hard pressed not to feel that the crooked Mitchell was heading up the Justice Department, which we now learn,  secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press. It’s something John Mitchell would have done.

AP calls it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”

I call it one of the most disgusting things to come out of Justice  in a long long time.

Eric Holder’s Justice Department has offered no public justification.

That’s because there is no justification in a nation where we have a First Amendment, in a nation where the government is not supposed to run amok and trample on the rights of press. 

(Update: Holder said Tuesday that he recused himself from the probe involving AP and that deputy Attorney General James Cole supervised the probe. He said he’s certain everything was done according to the law, and that the aggressive probe into a leak was essential.)

In all, the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012, according to AP.

AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt shot off a letter to Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr.:

“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

The Obama administration has come under constant attack by the right. With offensive antics like this,  it may not be able to count on support from the other side of the aisle in the future.

This shouldn’t happen, that is, unless it’s really the ghost of John Mitchell who’s running the Justice Department.

I’m not sure Eric Holder would like to be saddled with a legacy like that.

 


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