You’d think that Attorney General Eric Holder might have learned his lesson after the Fast and Furious scandal -- a botched federal firearms sting operation that allowed weapons to reach Mexican drug gangs. The sting resulted in the death of a border patrol guard and a federal agent, tarnishing Holder’s reputation as Attorney General and that of the Justice Department.
Now Holder has shown his tendency to overreach again by secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of Associated Press editors and reporters.
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt sent a scathing letter to Holder on Monday.
Dear General Holder:
I am writing to object in the strongest possible terms to a massive and unprecedented intrusion by the Department of Justice into the newsgathering activities of The Associated Press. …
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
“We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”
Holder may have been trying to nail down a leak from the AP about a foiled terror plot published in a May 7 story, but the Justice Department gave no reason or justification for seizing two months of records.
The strong-arm tactics seem eerily familiar--the political version of a one-season revenge series. Richard Nixon used these tactics to stake out his so-called imperial presidency. Nixon played “dirty tricks” on his competitors; abused his executive power and privilege, and of course covered up the Watergate burglary.
There may not be direct parallels to the Obama administration, but the events of the last few months have become too big to ignore. There’s the Benghazi cover up; a slew of executive orders that bypass Congress; the IRS targeting of GOP conservative organizations; and now, the intrusion, violation and intimidation of a major news organization.
Our nation deserves representatives in politics and in the press who hold likable presidents as accountable for their actions as those they dislike.
If Obama has taken a page e out of Nixon’s playbook, he should be checked before he finishes the chapter.