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War on Journalism

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 09:11 PM EDT

The Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records of dozens of Associated Press reporters in April and May, marking what some call a war on Journalism.

It's an issue that's putting U.S. Justice officials against reporters, mostly from the Associated Press.

"We're talking about 20 phone lines, secretive collections of information, personal information, personal phone lines. This was not a minor investigation.  It was a broad dragnet sweep," according to Anne McKenna, a Media Law Attorney specializing in privacy issues and freedom of speech.

McKenna says she recognizes the need for national security, but believes the Obama Administration may have violated the Freedom of the Press in an effort to investigate so-called whistleblowers and leaks. 

The current law requires media outlets be put on notice prior to a subpoena. "This was done in secret. These AP reporters did not know that these lines were being tapped," McKenna said.

But during during a speech in 2009, President Obama was calling for more transparency in government. "The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable.  And the way to hold government accountable is to make it transparent," Obama said.

And while he claims no part in the investigation into AP reporters, Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a decision to subpoena phone records of a Fox News reporter.

Critics now blame the president and his officials, not just for a lack of transparency, but what some consider a war on journalism,

"It seems that the administration here is really caught in some contradictions here and it looks like they are trying to put a chilling effect on investigative journalism," said Richard Vatz.

But under the fear of constant scrutiny man ask, can reporters really do their jobs? Will sources be too scared to come forward?

"When we look at the history of uncovering scandals in our government and government corruption, almost without fail it has been journalists who've done that," McKenna said. "There's no democracy without free speech and there's no democracy without free press."

War on Journalism


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