Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has been criticized for the Justice Department’s aggressive tactics in secretly obtaining phone logs and e-mails of reporters as part of leak investigations, announced new guidelines on Friday that would significantly narrow the circumstances under which journalists’ records could be obtained.
A White House spokesman said that President Obama supported the Justice Department’s changes as well as its call, at the end of a report on the revisions, to more often find ways other than criminal investigations to deal with leaks of classified information. Under Mr. Obama, prosecutors have filed charges in seven leak-related cases to date, compared with three under all previous presidents combined.
“There are circumstances in which leaks are better addressed through administrative means, such as withdrawal of security clearances or imposition of other sanctions,” said Matt Lehrich, the White House spokesman. “The president agrees with the Justice Department’s recommendation, and has directed his team to explore how the administration could more effectively use alternatives in appropriate cases.”