Holder grilled over AP phone records

Holder appeared before the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to answer questions regarding the Justice Department’s seizure of AP telephone conversations.

Holder, however, tried to distance himself from the scandal, saying he had nothing to do with the Justice Department’s decision to seize the phone records, and that it was Deputy Attorney General James Cole who approved the subpoenas for the news agency.

The Justice Department is currently investigating who leaked sensitive national security information about a foiled US attack in Yemen. The AP wrote a story about it in May 2012.

The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather news.

The top US prosecutor repeatedly said he could not answer any questions related to the Justice Department’s probe because he recused himself on the grounds that he had first-hand knowledge of the leak information and because he had frequent contact with the media.

“I am not familiar with the reasons why the subpoena was constructed in the way that it was because I am simply not a part of the case,” Holder said.

Tom Marino, a Republican from Pennsylvania, asked Holder for a written record of his recusal and was surprised to hear it might not exist.

The lawmakers pressed Holder on why the subpoena was so broad and why the Justice Department did not first try to negotiate with the AP.

“There doesn’t appear to be any acceptance of responsibility for things that have gone wrong,” Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, said.

“We don’t know where the buck stops,” he added.

The revelation of the surreptitious seizure of the telephone records has put the US administration on the brink of a new scandal pertaining to spying on media.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called on Holder to resign over the episode.

“Freedom of the press is an essential right in a free society,” he said in a statement.

If Holder remains, “the message will be unmistakable: The President of the United States believes his administration is above the Constitution and does not respect the role of a free press.”


Source Article from http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/05/16/303749/holder-grilled-over-ap-phone-records/

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