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Questions About Obama & the First Amendment

By Major Garrett, National Journal - May 22, 2013

Unconstitutional. Sweeping. Secretive. Abusive. Harassing.

Gary Pruitt, the president and CEO of the Associated Press, used those words on CBS's Face the Nation to describe the Justice Department's seizure of two months of AP reporters' phone records in New York, Washington, and Hartford, Conn. As Attorney General Eric Holder said in an entirely different context, that's not hyperbole.

Original reports on the subpoena indicated it called for the capture of phone logs of reporters' office phones, cell phones, and home phones. The subpoena did not allow the Justice Department to obtain the contents of the phone calls, merely the logged numbers. That's cold comfort to any reporter who knows that phone numbers are a source's fingerprints and access to them can give the government an evidentiary trail to a suspected leaker.

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