Society of Professional Journalists president Sonny Albarado
has condemned the Justice Department's alleged secret collection of AP reporter
and editor phone records and said it highlights the need for a federal shield
"The Justice Department's secret acquisition of two
months of the business and personal phone records of AP's reporters and other
employees is shameful and outrageous," Albarado said in a statement.
"This incident proves once again the need for a federal
shield Law. Prosecutors, unlike reporters, have subpoena power to compel
testimony, yet lazy prosecutors often prefer to go after reporters' notes and
records rather than do the hard investigative work to dig out information
without trampling on the First Amendment," he said.
SPJ has for years been pushing for a federal
shield law, aided by a number of legislators including notably the late Senate
Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter. Those attempts have been
resisted by various administrations, including
the present one.