President Obama is a little uneasy with the way journalists have been
dragged into the Justice Department’s aggressive pursuit of national
security leak investigations. In fact, he has ordered Attorney General
Eric Holder to conduct a 45-day review of the department’s guidelines on
That bit of news was buried in the middle of the president’s hourlong speech today at National Defense University.
“Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs,”
President Obama said. “Our focus must be on those who break the law.”
And then the news: “I have raised these issues with the attorney
general, who shares my concern. So he has agreed to review existing
Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve
reporters, and will convene a group of media organizations to hear their
concerns as part of that review. And I have directed the attorney
general to report back to me by July 12th.”
By Michael Isikoff National Investigative Correspondent, NBC News
General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that
identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator”
in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private
emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.
The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President
Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said
Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing
investigations that involve journalists.
"I am troubled by the
possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative
journalism that holds government accountable," Obama said. "Journalists
should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs."
Rosen, who has not been charged in the case, was nonetheless the
target of a search warrant that enabled Justice Department investigators
to secretly seize his private emails after an FBI agent said he had
"asked, solicited and encouraged … (a source) to disclose sensitive
United States internal documents and intelligence information."
comments follow a firestorm of criticism that has erupted over
disclosures that in separate investigations of leaks of classified
information, the Justice Department had obtained private emails that
Rosen exchanged with a source and the phone records of Associated Press