Holder to meet news media chiefs in review of subpoena policy

Attorney General Eric Holder is planning to meet with the Washington, D.C., bureau chiefs of major news outlets this week as he reviews the Justice Department’s (DOJ) policies for issuing media subpoenas.

The meetings over the next two days will initiate more lengthy discussions in the coming weeks with representatives from print, radio, television, wire, and online news groups and trade associations, according to a DOJ official.

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President Obama directed Holder to review the department’s media subpoena policies last week after a firestorm of criticism erupted from news organizations and lawmakers over the DOJ’s handling of two separate leaks investigations.

A DOJ official, speaking on background, said that Holder’s review is an attempt to ensure First Amendment rights are respected by the department and that it would include conversations with news media executives and general counsels in addition to government intelligence and investigative experts.


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“This review, which was announced by President Obama last Thursday, is consistent with the attorney general’s long standing belief that protecting and defending the First Amendment is essential to our democracy,” said the official.

The controversy has spurred the House Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in each chamber — fearful that the DOJ’s media subpoena power is unchecked — has introduced legislation that would force the department to present its case and receive approval from a federal judge before being able to subpoena a news organization.

The DOJ signed off on subpoenas last year that allowed them to secretly examine telephone records for at least 20 reporters and editors with The Associated Press as part of the department’s investigation into a government leak of classified information.

Separately, it was revealed last week that the DOJ had monitored the personal email accounts of a Fox News reporter and tracked his visits to the State Department building in an attempt to uncover a source who leaked an analysis on North Korea’s response to United Nations sanctions.


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