Press’ phone records seizure, the government on trial

Holder defends the conduct of the Department: «(The article of the Associated Press) put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole […] And trying to determine who was responsible for that, I think, required very aggressive action». Pruitt, by his side, has defined the seizure of the telephone recordsunconstitutional” and requested their destruction.
According to a report made by the news agency, in 2012 the telephones of a few journalists were being kept under surveillance by the Department of Justice in order to start an investigation about the news of a failed attack by Al Qaeda that had as target a flight to the United States. The Department allegedly intercepted the agency’s communications to trace back the source of this scoop, but, in the words of the main American journals, such initiative questions «the very integrity of Department of Justice policies toward the press and its ability to balance, on its own, its police powers against the First Amendment rights of the news media». The AP itself defines this «massive and unprecedented intrusion» as an unorthodox action that goes way beyond the vigilance powers of the Department.

The White House denies being involved or aware of the «tactics involved in the investigation», but it has said that they’re examining a «media shield bill», a legislation aiming at protecting the freedom of the press, anonymity of sources and national security at the same time. The spokesperson Jay Carney restates how the President is «a strong defender of the First Amendment and a firm believer in the need for the press to be free in its ability to conduct investigative reporting and to facilitate a free flow of information». The goal is to protect and balance the delicate equilibrium between national security, right of information and civil rights and, in this regard, the President believes that it is essential to reintroduce a «media shield law» as soon as possible.

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Claudia Pellicano

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