While we all eagerly await what I’m sure will be the compelling results of the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Department of Justice’s secret seizure of the phone records of the professional and personal phone calls of Associated Press reporters last year, due to land on President Obama’s desk by July 12th, the AP chief Gary Pruitt had some words on Wednesday for the DOJ and the effect their sketchy behavior has had on reporters simply attempting to do their jobs. The DOJ violated their own rules with their too-broad seizure, he said, and should have provided the AP the chance to help the DOJ narrow the scope of their subpoena. Via Politico:
“There was never that opportunity,” Pruitt said during a speech at the National Press Club in D.C. “Instead the DoJ acted as judge, jury and executioner in private, in secret.” …
“The actions of the DOJ against AP are already having an impact beyond the specifics of this particular case,” he said. “Some of our longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking to us, even about stories that aren’t about national security. In some cases, government employees that we once checked in with regularly will no longer speak to us by phone, and some are reluctant to meet in person.”
“This chilling effect is not just at the AP, it’s happening at other news organizations as well,” Pruitt added.
While the AP is not going to be “intimidated,” by the DoJ’s action, he said, “our sources will be.”
BuzzFeed adds the money line: “The government may love this. I suspect that they do… But beware the government that loves secrecy too much.” Real talk.
President Obama and the White House have been defending their War On Leaks and journalist-intimidation tactics, and while the DOJ’s eventual report might perhaps have some kind of mealy-mouthed admission about this particular case being slightly mishandled somehow (but by who exactly, I doubt we’ll ever know), but Holder has already signalled that they really don’t have any plans to change their aggressive prosecution of leaks. So, that’s nice.