Holder: I Don’t Know About Seizure of Records From Journalists

susanne_posel_news_ eric-holderSusanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism
May 16, 2013




Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the House Judicial Committee this week to explain the decision of the Department of Justice (DoJ) to subpoena journalist’s records that were tied to an investigation leak.

House Representative Bob Goodlate grilled Holder on the procedures.

Holder responded: “I do not know with regard to this particular case why that was or was not done….I am not familiar with the reasons why the email was disrupted in the way that it was. I have faith in the people who would actually be responsible for this case they were aware of the rules and they followed them. But I don’t have a factual basis to answer the question because I was recused.”

House Representative Zoe Lofgren said: “It seems to me clear that the actions of the department have in fact impaired the First Amendment. Reporters who might have previously believed that a confidential source would speak to them will no longer have that that level of confidence because those confidential sources are now going to be chilled in their relationship with the press.”

Lofgren continued: “It seems to me the damage done to a free press is substantial and will continue until corrective action is taken. I think this is a very serious matter that concerns all of us, no matter your party affiliation.”

Holder maintained: “This is an ongoing matter and also an ongoing matter about which I know nothing. I do think at the conclusion of this matter, given the attention that it has generated, that some kind of after-action analysis would be appropriate. I will pledge to this committee and the American people that I will engage in such an analysis.”

To protect his agendas, President Obama pushed for a federal media shield to keep a semblance of damage control over the hearing.

Senator Chuck Schumer announced that he would bring back the Free Flow of Information Act (FFIA) to protect journalists and their sources from being exposed by the US government in the name of public interest.

Schumer admitted that the FFIA might not have protected the Associated Press from inquiries from the DoJ; however there must be a balance of national security and the public’s right to know.

Holder reminded the committee that he had recused himself from the investigation into the leak, so he had little to tell the House.

Holder said that Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole was left to make decisions about the subpoena probe and should be questioned by the committee. Holder said that his refusal to become involved in the probe was to keep the independent integrity of the investigation.

Adding to the drama, Holder accused House Representative Darrell Issa of being “shameful” with regard to his conduct during the hearing.

Holder announced that there would be a nationwide investigation into the seizure of information from the Associated Press. Holder admitted that “there are potential civil rights law (and) false statement violations.”

The DoJ seized telephone records of journalists who work at the Associated Press. Lists of out-bound calls, including personal cell phone numbers and calls made at work, were seized by the DoJ. Even the direct number to the House of Representatives held by AP was taken.

In a written statement , the DoJ explained: “Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media. We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.”

While remaining vague as to why they were interested in this information, the DoJ stated that they were concerned about how the AP was privy to leaked information regarding an al-Qaeda bomb plot in Yemen prior to the story being publicized.

The story published by AP regarded how last spring the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was conducting an operation in Yemen to stop al-Qaeda from successfully obtaining a bomb and detonating it on an airplane in the US. AP apparently knew more about the operation than they should have.

Regarding the Internal Revenue Service targeting tea Party organizations, Holder said that the DoJ would impose an “after-action analysis”.

The report provided by the inspector general of the US Treasury explains how the dysfunction in the US government is conducted.

Major points of the report are:

• IRS employees claim no outside influences requested targeting conservative groups
• The persons responsible used inappropriate filters to identify their targets
• After they were told to stop, they continued to harass targeted groups
• One person was given the task of reviewing all these selected applications
• It was claimed that the groups targeted were suspected of having questionable political ties
• The IRS promises to investigate the problem
• Confusing rules for approving tax-exempt status is part of the problem
• Some applications were shelved for 3 years
• A portion of targeted applications were not forwarded to the review process
• Targeted groups were put on a BOLO (be on the lookout) list
• The IRS demanded irrelevant information as an excuse to keep the applications in limbo

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