WASHINGTON, D.C. - In the wake of yet another potential scandal from the Department of Justice, Alaskan Congressman Don Young has sent a letter with Congressman Trey Radel (R-FL), a former journalist, to Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole expressing grave concern for the possible First Amendment rights violations that occurred during their investigation of the Associated Press.
“Americans can agree national security leaks are harmful to this country, and can put the safety of our nation and national defense at risk, but the latest move by the Department of Justice conducted in the name of national security is beyond the pale,” Rep. Young said. “Initial reports indicate that the Department of Justice threw all of their normal procedures and protocols out the window, and completely disregarded the First Amendment rights of the Associated Press journalists. The country’s patience toward the Department of Justice is waning, especially after botched operations like Fast and Furious, and closer to home in Alaska, the prosecutorial misconduct of Department of Justice attorneys during the Senator Ted Stevens debacle. Americans deserve answers to this latest incident, and it is my hope that in sending this letter, Congress can begin to get to the bottom of this utter disregard for an individual’s constitutional rights.”
Co-signed by 29 Representatives, the letter asks Attorney General Holder to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate potential First Amendment rights violations during the monitoring of 20 Associated Press phone lines without their knowledge.
Also enclosed in the letter, are four questions, which must be responded to in full:
1. Who within the Justice Department approved, was aware of and supervised the monitoring of the Associated Press phone lines?
2. If you are required to approve all subpoenas of records of news organizations, did you review the Justice Department’s subpoena of the Associated Press phone lines? If not, why?
3. Has a monitoring of this scope and breadth occurred previously at the Justice Department, and if so, what news organizations or reporters were monitored and why?
4. How will those responsible be held accountable for their actions?
The entire letter to Attorney General Holder and Deputy Attorney General Cole can be found here: http://donyoung.house.gov/UploadedFiles/APDOJLetter.pdf