"President Barack H. Obama’s outrageous seizure of the Associated Press’s phone records, allegedly to discover sources of leaks, should surprise no one...He is fast becoming the worst national security press president ever, and it may not get any better."
So wrote James Goodale Tuesday, the attorney who defended the New York Times against President Richard Nixon in the famous Pentagon Papers trial.
It is believed that Obama’s Justice Department sought AP’s records to find the source of a leak that informed an AP story about a failed terrorist attack. What makes this action particularly egregious is that Justice didn’t tell AP what it was doing until two months after it obtained the records. This not only violates Justice Department guidelines for subpoenas of this sort, but also common sense, decency, and the First Amendment.
Under the guidelines, subpoenas concerning the press cannot be issued without the express approval of the Attorney General. Further, before a subpoena is issued, the government is honor bound to negotiate with the party to which it is directed.
Adding to this, Goodale told the New York Observer Tuesday:
“Nixon and Agnew were like listening to a Fox News program all day long, every day,” he said. “In their eyes, the Eastern establishment press were against them and they were against it and they were going to destroy it as best they can.” But, he said, “Obama has all these things that he’s done to the press on national security matters that Nixon never did.”
As more information concerning the AP and the IRS scandals comes to light, it will be interesting to see how many of Obama's fans in the media will voice similar conclusions.
Photos courtesy AP.