President George W. Bush’s attorney general said Tuesday that the Obama administration has engaged in “reprehensible conduct” with its unprecedented collection of Associated Press phone logs.
Michael Mukasey, who led the Justice Department under Mr. Bush in the final years of his presidency, said it appears the administration wanted to muzzle news accounts contradicting their “narrative” that al Qaeda was on the run.
“This is a narrative that’s different than we want to put out there,” Mr. Mukasey said during an interview on Fox News, explaining the administration’s rationale.
The Justice Department reportedly gathered two months of AP phone records and other information after the news service published a story detailing how a terrorist bombing plot in Yemen had been foiled.
The story broke a day before President Obama planned to release the news, and the Justice probe apparently was designed to learn who leaked information about the plot to the AP.
“It’s reprehensible conduct,” Mr. Mukasey said. “The underlying facts with regard to the AP story suggest that there was a somewhat broader gathering of data than should’ve ever been authorized.”
He also said that there is no doubt the White House “deliberately misled the American people” over the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attacks, where four Americans were killed.
“When you have a situation where people’s lives are at risk as they were in Benghazi, and you make decisions about whether to rescue them or not or what story to put out or not based on the demands of a political campaign — that’s way too far,” Mr. Mukasey said.