The Justice Department informed The Asso-ciated Press on Friday that it had secretly seized two months' worth of phone records for reporters and editors earlier this year.
The staggering breadth of the records the Justice Department obtained - and the fact that the AP was given no opportunity to argue against this intrusion - set off alarm bells.
More than four dozen media organizations lodged a hot protest with the department.
If the government can come in and seize reams of phone records from newsgathering organizations without notice or due process, not only is newsgathering not safe from government, nobody is.
Judging from the time frame covered by the records seized, observers speculate the records grab may be related to an investigation into how the CIA's disruption of a terrorist plot to bomb an airliner made it into print.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., characterized that leak as "very, very serious." Indeed, there has been bipartisan outrage over leaks of national-
In 2012, Holder assigned U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. of the District of Columbia to lead an
investigation into one such leak.