Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to come clean about his role in the Department of Justice’s decision to seize phone records of the Associated Press secretly.
In a Monday evening statement, Grassley said the administration needs to offer an open and transparent explanation for all its behavior and a full accounting of the reasoning behind its actions.
“The department’s regulations state that prosecutors should obtain the Attorney General’s personal sign off when a free press is at stake,” Grassley said in the statement his office circulated to press. “The Obama administration needs to be transparent with its rationale for such a sweeping intrusion and detail whether the process outlined in regulation and the U.S. Attorney’s manual were followed and justified for national security.”
In its story exposing this matter, the AP notes Holder must personallysign off on any intrusion as big as what occurred. “Justice Departmentpublished rules require that subpoenas of recordsfrom news organizations must be personally approved by the attorneygeneral but it was not known if that happened in this case,” writes author Mark Sherman.
In its only response thus far, a statement provided to Business Insider, the DOJ did not answer Grassley’s questions for a transparent accounting of its decision-making.
“We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations,” the DOJ said. “Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media.
“We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.”