by MATT GORDON Editor-in-chief
It was revealed that the Department of Justice seized nearly two months of phone records from the Associated Press in response to an article about a May 7 secret CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomber. CEO of the Associated Press, Gary Pruitt, called the seizure “unconstitutional” and against the freedom of press.
After the article was written, the DoJ asked the AP not to publish the article immediately as it would be a national threat. Pruitt agreed and has not published the article; however, the DoJ still accessed the AP’s phone records of interviews from that article and possibly other controversial articles.
Pruitt said, “We respected that, we acted responsibly, we held the story. They’ve been secretive, they’ve been overbroad and abusive – so much so that taken together, they are unconstitutional because they violate our First Amendment rights.”
Pruitt added that it is still too early to know if the AP will take legal action against the DoJ. The seizure may make people less willing to talk to the AP, as they fear their name would be revealed to the government in situations of secrecy like the CIA operation. This seizure may also hurt other journalists out of fear that their records could also be illegally seized by the government.
Sophomore Matt Cocorikis said, “It is ridiculous that journalists have to fear the government when giving interviews and people need to be afraid of their quotes being used against them. What the Justice Department did was unconstitutional and they should be punished for their actions.”
This is not the first issue that Attorney General Eric Holder has had to deal with recently. Last year, the House of Representatives voted against him when he refused to turn over documents in a failed government gun smuggling sting, known as Fast and Furious. Many in the government are calling for his job, but White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer has full confidence in the job Holder has done.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, the nation’s forefront group on freedom in press and media, spoke out against the Obama administration, including Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole. The statement included:
“Our board of directors rarely has seen the need to raise its collective voice against U.S. government actions that threaten newsgathering. Today, however, we do see that need: We write you to vigorously protest the secret seizing of phone records of The Associated Press. The overly broad scope of the secret subpoena and the lack of notification to the AP by the Justice Department represent a damaging setback for press freedom in the United States.”
The Committee is obviously upset about the lack of journalistic freedom involved in secretive interviews for the sake of investigative journalism and issues involving secret government issues. They further blame the DoJ of disallowing the AP freedom of press and taking away their First Amendment Rights.
Junior Brandon Hur said, “Holder should be fired. This is the second time he has been involved in a scandal. The government needs to bring justice to the department and not allow them to get away with the illegal seizure of records.”