National Press Club

NPC Welcomes Review of Leak Probes but Still Worries About Judicial Overreach

May 24, 2013 | By John M. Donnelly | JDonnelly@cq.com

The National Press Club on Friday welcomed President Obama's directive that the Justice Department reexamine its policies for investigating leaks to the press.

But the Club's president, Angela Greiling Keane, said journalists are worried about what appears to be a pattern of judicial overreach by the Obama administration.

"We are greatly concerned that the Justice Department's actions in these cases will have a chilling effect on would-be whistleblowers," Greiling Keane said.

Obama's decision to order the review, announced in a speech on Thursday, comes on the heels of reports about unusually intrusive attempts to find the sources of news stories.
Reports this week indicated that the Justice Department executed in 2009 a search warrant for emails, phone logs and security-badge records of Fox News reporter James Rosen. In legal filings, Rosen was called an "aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" after he reported on secret information provided by a State Department source about North Korea.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press announced that the phone records of a number of its reporters and bureaus had been subpoenaed and secretly seized in an apparent effort to learn the identity of a source for a 2012 story on a thwarted al-Qaida terrorist plot.

"The National Press Club demands a thorough accounting by the Justice Department in its review of the legal rationale it used in authorizing searches into the emails and phone records of journalists," Greiling Keane said.

President Obama has ordered the Justice Department complete its review by July 12.