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Lawmakers Outraged by Leaks Struggle With DOJ's AP Seizure

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Feinstein said Wednesday that she is not yet alarmed by the Department of Justice’s acquisition of phone records to and from Associated Press reporters.

This week, when asked by CQ Roll Call whether the GOP’s position has been inconsistent between the New York Times and AP incidents — and therefore before and after the 2012 presidential election — McCain presented a more nuanced view of perpetrating leaks.

“It depends. If it’s a wide net and let’s throw it out there and see what we catch, that’s one thing. If you have specific information about an individual, then that’s the Valerie Plame affair. Then you go after that individual that breached national security, so that varies,” McCain said Tuesday.

Cornyn engaged in a testy exchange last June with Deputy Attorney General James Cole over the earlier national security leaks, questioning whether they constituted a federal crime and demanding to know what the DOJ was doing about it.

Yet on Wednesday, he sent a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., prodding him on his involvement in the AP affair.

“The regulations — important guarantees of press freedom — should result in modest use of such subpoenas, which makes your statement yesterday that you were not sure how many you had authorized troubling,” Cornyn wrote.

Meanwhile, Schumer reintroduced a reporter shield bill that failed to become law in 2009 but was supported by the White House and the news media at the time. The legislation would protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources and would establish a legal framework for determining the limited national security exception circumstances under which protected information would be subject to disclosure. Otherwise, it would provide “absolute” privilege to reporters in the case of disputes.

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