Journalists of all stripes — along with politicians, analysts and scores of others — are hammering the Obama administration for its admitted collection of Associated Press telephone records.
A top executive with the AP on Tuesday called the ordeal “obviously very distressing” and said the Justice Department has yet to explain its actions.
“I’ve been in this business more than 30 years. Our First Amendment lawyers inside the AP … none of us have ever seen anything like this,” said AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.
She was seated alongside legendary Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, who said the White House’s ongoing efforts to stop national security leaks are efforts to “intimidate” government sources who speak to reporters.
“It is outrageous, totally inexcusable,” Mr. Bernstein said. “This administration has been terrible on this subject from the beginning. The object of it is to intimidate people who talk to reporters. This was an accident waiting to become a nuclear event, and now it’s happened. There’s no excuse for it whatsoever.”
The federal government on Monday admitted that it had gathered two months of AP telephone records from April and May 2012. The records included incoming and outgoing calls, how long each call lasted and other information.
The investigation reportedly related to a May 7, 2012, AP article detailing how the CIA had derailed a planned al-Qaeda-linked group. The story was published a day before President Obama planned to publicly announce the attack had been foiled, the AP said.