News Articles

Editorial: The Shield

Broad seizure of the telephone records of AP reporters and editors a troubling issue 5/20/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

The Justice Department’s invocation of national security notwithstanding,
its broad seizure of the telephone records of Associated
Press reporters and editors is a troubling, overbroad effort and
an opportunity to renew our call for a federal shield law.

Such a law would have a carve-out for national
security, but it would also buttress protections from
overzealous government officials’ subpoenas. The
late Sen. Arlen Specter was a tireless advocate for
the shield. Rep. John Conyers has taken up that
standard. White House spokesman Jay Carney said
last week that President Obama supports a federal
shield, as does Attorney General Eric Holder. If so,
the administration has a curious way of showing it.

According to AP, it was not notified of the
phone record grab, and thus not given a chance
to argue against it or for a more narrow collection.

“We are seriously concerned about the actions
taken by the Department of Justice, which could
have a chilling effect on the U.S. media and its
ability to report on sensitive issues,” Committee
to Protect Journalists program coordinator Carlos
Lauría said last week. Lauría is in charge of a
program targeting threats to press freedom in the
Americas, a threat that includes the administration.
“We call on [Holder] to provide a full explanation
of the Department of Justice’s decision and
comply with the request from the AP to return
all telephone records,” Lauría said. So do we.


Alert to All Users of the Disqus commenting system:
Because of a recent global security issue, the Disqus website recommends that all users change their Disqus passwords. Here's a URL about the issue: