After news editor boycott, U.S. attorney general loosens rules

WASHINGTON Fri May 31, 2013 6:52pm EDT

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder looks on during a special naturalization ceremony at the Department of Justice in Washington May 28, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder looks on during a special naturalization ceremony at the Department of Justice in Washington May 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder loosened his rules for speaking with media editors on Friday during a second day of meetings with them about his Justice Department's handling of investigations that involve reporters, the editors said.

Representatives from Reuters and ABC News met with Holder, the chief U.S. law enforcement officer, and his staff following recent disclosures that federal prosecutors seized records from two other media outlets without advance notice.

A Reuters spokeswoman had said on Thursday that the news agency would not take part in any discussion that was "off the record," meaning its contents could not be recorded or reported.

Reuters and some news organizations, including The New York Times and CNN, said they would not attend, but representatives of other news organizations met with Holder on Thursday.

Another meeting went ahead on Friday after Holder agreed its contents would be largely for publication, Reuters Chief Operating Officer Stuart Karle told reporters outside Justice Department headquarters. Karle attended with Marilyn Thompson, the Reuters bureau chief in Washington.

He said that department officials showed an interest in making changes to investigative guidelines on access to media records, but he said it was premature to draw conclusions.

"Long-term, I think they're looking for changes in how the rules operate and regard this as an opportunity to make sure that happens," Karle said.

The meetings were part of a 45-day review of Justice Department guidelines ordered by President Barack Obama after an outcry from journalists that the seizure of records from the Associated Press and Fox News compromised press freedom.

Prosecutors say they want to know who, in speaking to the Associated Press in 2012, exposed a covert agent helping U.S. forces against al Qaeda in Yemen.

An analyst who worked at the State Department, Stephen Kim, faces trial as early as next year on charges that he leaked to Fox News a story in 2009 that described the thinking of U.S. intelligence officials about North Korea.

As part of the investigation into Kim, the FBI obtained the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen and described Rosen in a search warrant affidavit as a possible criminal co-conspirator. Rosen was never charged and the Justice Department said there were no plans to charge him.

Five news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, sent representatives to see Holder and his staff on Thursday.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Vicki Allen and Jim Loney)

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Comments (9)
Sinbad1 wrote:
I think that the media should find some evidence linking Holder to the Boston bombings and the FBI could remove him in their usual way, a hail of bullets.

May 31, 2013 9:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
toklat wrote:
It is good the rules were not as strict on off the record on this meeting yet it was kept to general information until more conclusive facts are given on this situation. there can be little doubt from the minute Obama became our president the ultra right wing tea party political people have tried everything to undermine him and anyoe in his partywhile of course ur press must be free to report factual news there also has to be a good balance between an actual serious leak and ones that are not.

May 31, 2013 12:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Des3Maisons wrote:
It doesn’t really matter what the outcome of this issue will be. We already know Eric Holder is a miserable failure. He has been persecuting whistle blowers while at the same time letting Bush & Cheney get off scot-free for their war crimes. They violated the Geneva Conventions with torture and rendition. They lied about the reasons for invading Iraq where hundreds of thousands of people were killed and maimed. They wiped their feet on the Constitution when they wiretapped U.S. citizens. And the list goes on and on. The American people have a right to know the whole sordid history of their criminal activity but neither Obama nor Eric Holder’s Justice Department nor the U.S. Congress have had the backbone to conduct these investigations. It’s just easier to break your oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and sweep it all under the rug.

Jun 01, 2013 9:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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