May 14 - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended the seizure of the Associated Press' phone records, saying it was necessary to determine the source of a news leak in a critical investigation of a plot that put the nation ''at risk.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that the national security information leak that prompted the Department of Justice to seize Associated Press phone records was among the most serious breaches he has ever seen. Holder told a news conference he was certain that investigators had followed appropriate Department of Justice rules and regulations in their probe, which has raised concerns about the freedom of the press. He also stressed that he had recused himself from the matter out of an "abundance of caution." The Justice Department in this investigation conducted over 550 interviews and reviewed tens of thousands of documents before seeking the phone records, Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote in a letter to the AP that was released to the media. Federal agents secretly seized telephone records of AP offices and journalists for a two-month period last year. The news organization said it was notified on Friday after the fact.