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Resignation of U.S. Attorney General is chance for country to rethink relationship with press

The following is a CPJ Blog post by Geoffrey King, CPJ Internet Advocacy Coordinator

Last week's announcement by Eric Holder that he will resign as Attorney General marks what will hopefully be the beginning of the end of a perplexingly dark period for press freedom in the U.S. As Holder seeks to solidify his legacy, in part based on important civil rights reforms that he helped realize, the aggression with which his Justice Department has gone after journalists and their sources bears considerable reflection. With the nomination of a new attorney general looming, now is the time for a national conversation about just what values the chief law enforcement officer of the United States should seek to uphold.

Despite his public statements about the importance of a free press, during Holder's tenure as attorney general, the Justice Department and its component agencies -- most notably the FBI - went after members of the news media with disturbing alacrity. It issued sweeping secret subpoenas for the telephone records of The Associated Press; vigorously sought to have Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen held in contempt for protecting the identity of a source; served a search warrant -- illegal in most cases under a federal law that bans authorities from seizing unpublished material intended for public dissemination -- for Fox News reporter James Rosen's emails; secured a federal indictment against freelance journalist Barrett Brown for sharing a hyperlink in the course of his reporting; and enabled the bulk collection of telephony metadata and other information by the National Security Agency.

Read the full story on CPJ's site.

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