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AP Probe Scandal Raises Questions About Conflicts in Protecting the First Amendment and National Security

Attorney General Eric Holder pauses during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Holder said he's ordered a Justice Department investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups for extra tax scrutiny. (Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

News of the Department of Justice's probe of The Associated Press continues to put pressure on the White House. Appearing on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday, AP's CEO Gary Pruitt called the DOJ's actions unconstitutional and said the government has no business monitoring their news-gathering activities.

"The people of the United States will only know what the government wants them to know and that's not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment," he said.

In a separate interview with the AP, Pruitt said the Justice Department's investigation is out of control and his organization is still considering legal action against the government.

"It's too early to know if we'll take legal action but I can tell you we are positively displeased and we do feel that our constitutional rights have been violated," Pruitt said.

"They've been secretive, they've been overboard and abusive , so much so that taken together, they are unconstitutional because they violate our First Amendment rights," he added.

In addition to the DOJ's issues with the AP, the government also reportedly seized the emails and phone records of Fox News correspondent James Rosen while investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009. The Washington Post first reported Sunday:

Court documents show abundant evidence gathered from Kim’s office computer and phone records, but investigators said they needed to go a step further to build their case, seizing two days’ worth of Rosen’s personal e-mails — and all of his e-mail exchanges with Kim.

Privacy protections limit searching or seizing a reporter’s work, but not when there is evidence that the journalist broke the law against unauthorized leaks. A federal judge signed off on the search warrant — agreeing that there was probable cause that Rosen was a co-conspirator.

On 'Real News' Monday the panel discussed the federal government's surveillance of the press and if there is ever situations where national security concerns trump the first amendment. Watch a clip with attorney George Freeman below:


On TheBlog:  Obama DOJ relied on 1917 Espionage Act to target Fox News reporter


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