AG Holder Recused Himself in AP Toll Records Case

Attorney General Eric Holder says he recused himself from the investigation into the leak of Undiebomber Wannabe II that resulted in the Justice Department subpoenas of telephone toll records of Associated Press Reporters. Apparently, the subpoenas were authorized by Deputy AG James Cole.

Deputy AG James Cole wrote this letter today to the Associated Press. He says each of the phone numbers for which records were sought were associated with AP personnel involved in the reporting of classified information. The investigation is ongoing.

The Associated Press has issued this statement in response.

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    Appearing before the (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Zorba on Wed May 15, 2013 at 02:16:27 PM EST
    House Judiciary Committee:
    Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Eric Holder said that he's "95 to 99 percent" certain the Deputy Attorney General was the person who authorized a subpoena of AP phone records.

    When asked if Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued the subpoena, Holder said he "had to assume he did."


    So he didn't directly know.  And presumably Obama didn't directly know.  Sort of reminds me of Hogan's Heroes and Sgt. Schultz:  "I know nothing!"

    Or else Donald Rumsfeld.  Remember him?

    There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.


    Great Post (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by Slado on Wed May 15, 2013 at 02:27:41 PM EST
    It defies common sense that Obama learned about this on Monday.

    If it does happen to be true then what do we need him for.

    Resign and don't replace him.   The Executive branch apparently runs itself on his watch.

    The idea the the president had no knowledge of this is either unbelievable or a sign of incompetence.


    100% agree. Obama knows "nothing" and (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Cashmere on Wed May 15, 2013 at 02:51:01 PM EST
    the buck never stops with him.  I feel so differently about Obama now than I did when I first voted for him.  Such a disappointment.

    Well (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed May 15, 2013 at 02:52:28 PM EST
    his "management style" is something that a lot of us around here have had problems with for quite a while.

    Slado, it is not often (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Zorba on Wed May 15, 2013 at 03:31:48 PM EST
    that I agree with you, and  vice versa, I'm sure.  But this whole mess goes to the very root of our democracy, the Bill of Rights, and freedom the press in Amendment I, as well as Amendment IV (unreasonable search and seizure, etc).
    I always recall what Mr. Zorba said, way back in the days of Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair:  "Either Reagan knew, in which case he was complicit, or he didn't know, in which case he was incompetent."  One way or the other.  It would seem to apply to Obama here, as well.

    Zorba (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by vicndabx on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:07:42 PM EST
    indeed this does go to the very root of our democracy.  Specifically, IMO, whether one believes those that attain some level of power w/in our gov't will always be assumed to have nefarious intent as opposed to exercising their own obligations under the law.  Isn't that what we require them to do?

    Does it matter at all whether classified info was given to the press prematurely?  Everything is not a conspiracy.


    Actually, the President is not (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:18:53 PM EST
    supposed to know about the details of criminal investigations.   The DOJ is not his private police force....This was the lesson of Watergate.

    The DOJ is supposed to have a certain amount of independence....

    Same thing with IRS.  The President is not supposed to be issuing orders telling the IRS what to do.  Another lesson from Watergate.

    It would be nice to demand that the President stop the DOJ and the IRS from engaging in improper conduct in specific cases, but not otherwise direct the affairs of these agencies.

    Either we have some separation or we do not.  Yes, it would be nice to have a Dirty Harry know just when to pull the trigger on the bad guys, but never make a mistake.

    The distance from the White House is by design.

    I agree with the policy ojections to the warrantless search of the AP records.  But that is matter of leglislation, not oversight.


    Yes, while I agree that (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by Zorba on Wed May 15, 2013 at 05:17:06 PM EST
    the President should not be issuing orders to the DOJ, there have been a few too many cases lately of the DOJ overstepping, as far as I am concerned.
    For instance, a very recent case involved the DOJ filing a last minute appeal asking for a delay in the sale of the morning-after pill to girls of any age, despite the judge's ruling.  This has received a whole lot of press, but bupkis from the administration.  They allowed the DOJ to ignore scientific findings.  
    This has not been the only example in recent years.  I can only conclude that Obama is content with the way the Justice Department is being run by Holder.

    The morning after pill (none / 0) (#43)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 05:46:45 PM EST
    I think can be more fairly placed on Obama's doorstep.

    That is different than an ongoing criminal investigation.

    You are articulating the critique from the Left, none of which the Right agrees with.


    That little fact (4.00 / 3) (#44)
    by jbindc on Wed May 15, 2013 at 05:56:58 PM EST
    hasn't stopped Obama from commenting on criminal investigations before, such as the  Trayvon Martin case or the Henry Louis Gates case, though.

    wha? (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by vicndabx on Wed May 15, 2013 at 06:16:12 PM EST
    those were current events involving local PD that the president has no jurisdiction over.  Issues raised here are whether the admin should step in or oversee a branch of the federal gov't that is supposed to be independent and how that other branch effects its responsibilities.

    How are the events you cite relevant?


    The comment was (none / 0) (#47)
    by jbindc on Thu May 16, 2013 at 11:19:57 AM EST
    Actually, the President is not (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:18:53 PM EST

    supposed to know about the details of criminal investigations.

    Iran Contra was run out of the White House (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:21:24 PM EST
    That is why Reagan knew or should have known.

    Obama was not directly involved in the DOJ investigation.

    We are past having the President be able to give direct orders to the IRS and the DOJ.  This was lesson of Nixon.  We should all want that distance.


    Slado, care to respond (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:29:30 PM EST
    to the specifics of any of my posts.

    The President is not supposed to have direct supervisory power over the DOJ or the IRS.   The idea is to prevent a President from being able to give direct CEO style ordrs to these agencies.

    The reason for this goes back to Nixon using the IRS to punish enemies, and the FBI to act as his private bagman.

    Thus, the institutional distance.....



    Zorba, the President is not supposed to know (none / 0) (#37)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:23:02 PM EST
    While I understand (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Zorba on Wed May 15, 2013 at 05:23:00 PM EST
    your stance, MKS, and while there are plenty of instances in the past of presidents very inappropriately interfering with the DOJ, my feeling is that, if the DOJ is way overstepping its bounds, the president needs to take responsibility.
    We're going to have to agree to disagree on this one, I'm afraid.

    The blame is on the policy (none / 0) (#42)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 05:43:31 PM EST
    and for that I think you can rightly blame Obama--warrants matter.

    But not for the particular breadth of subpoenas in this case.....

    This AP subpoena issue is a result of a policy.....this is what happens....


    His admin... (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by Dadler on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:01:15 PM EST
    ...has gone after more whistleblowers than any administration in history. I find it hard to believe that isn't a direct reflection of his own "leadership" or utter lack therof.

    Curiously (none / 0) (#1)
    by bmaz on Tue May 14, 2013 at 11:53:47 PM EST
    Holder today at his scheduled presser with Sebelius allowed himself to be suckered into wading into answering questions about the propriety of the AP subpoena. Was pretty stupid opening of doors for a man that is supposedly "recused".

    I'm normally upset when the ... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed May 15, 2013 at 12:31:33 AM EST
    ... federal government comes down heavy-handed on reporters who are trying to do their job, and I'm not a fan of the Patriot Act and secret subpoenas. But in this day and age when:

    • The identity of a CIA covert operative working on the racing of WMD can be bandied about and disclosed by Vice President Dick Cheney's office to a friendly conservative journalist, who then dutifully publishes it the Chicago Sun-Times, all because the boss didn't like an editorial her husband wrote two weeks earlier in the New York Times; and

    • The phones and computers of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown can be hacked by News Corp. journalists, who then report to the public that the PM's baby son has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis -- even before he and his wife are told the news by the physicians;

    I'm having a very hard time right now mustering up a lot of sympathy for the folks at the Associated Press, given that their reporter received classified information from an anonymous source that apparently short-circuited an ongoing intelligence operation against al Qa'eda in Yemen (or so the DOJ claims).

    The leaking of classified information was made a federal crime for good reason. And if there's a legitimate rationale why that information was classified in the first place, then yes, I'd want the person or persons who thoughtlessly compromised our national security -- potentially putting other people's lives at risk in the process -- to be both outed and prosecuted. I want to believe that a free press can and should also be a responsible press.


    Um, no... (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by bmaz on Wed May 15, 2013 at 12:54:50 AM EST
    The original "leaking" was done by John Brennan, who has since been made head of CIA. Secondly, the AP worked with the govt to delay publication and the "operation" was over; even the administration was set to publicly announce the plot the following morning after the AP published.

    So, not so much sympathy for the bleating of the government from this side of the equation.


    Marcy's writing on this has been stellar; (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Anne on Wed May 15, 2013 at 06:15:26 AM EST
    the woman has an amazing ability to see through the subterfuge to get at the method behind the government's madness - but, as usual, we won't hear any of this kind of connect-the-dots reporting in the mainstream, and people will be happy to lap up the standard drivel of fear the WH uses to shut people up.

    I guess I'm not the only one who gets tired of being treated as if I'm stupid...


    It's creepy (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 15, 2013 at 07:08:11 AM EST
    It's like the administration wanted bragging rights, but the brag led Richard Clarke to make the next critical thinking speculation...that they had someone on the inside.

    By the time it's all said on done, the Repubs are screaming about a classified leak and justice attempts to find a fall guy, any guy, via AP?


    What "leak"? (none / 0) (#17)
    by vicndabx on Wed May 15, 2013 at 12:00:30 PM EST
    Brennan made a comment on a phone call and someone else respected in the intelligence community working as a commentator made an inference that the press ran with.

    Last May, as a story was unfolding about the disruption of a Yemen-based plot to bomb an aircraft bound for the U.S., Brennan held a private teleconference with national security and terrorism commentators for the major television networks, Reuters reported. On the call, Brennan said the plot didn't pose a direct threat because the U.S. had "inside control" of it, according to the wire service.

    Within hours, ABC reported that U.S. officials "had somebody on the inside who wasn't going to let it happen." By the following day, press accounts said the U.S. had a mole inside Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

    The Reuters story suggested Brennan helped set in motion news reports that caused the operation to be shut down prematurely, but the White House called that notion "ridiculous."



    Donald your opinion is your own but facts are (1.00 / 2) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:25:14 AM EST

    Libby was prosecuted and convicted of obstruction of justice. It was claimed that he lied to an FBI investigator. What smells about this is that the Special Prosecutor knew who had outed Plame on the first day of his appointment. It was Richard Armitage.

    "WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage acknowledged Thursday that he was the source who first revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to syndicated columnist Robert Novak back in 2003, touching off a federal investigation.
    Armitage told the CBS Evening News that he did so inadvertently.

    "I feel terrible," Armitage said. "Every day, I think, I let down the president. I let down the secretary of state. I let down my department, my family, and I also let down Mr. and Mrs. Wilson."


    Armitage was never prosecuted. Why??? Because Plame was not, despite all the claims, a covert agent. At the time of Armitage's conversation with Novak she was not covered under the law:

    Let's look at the law:

    "(4) The term "covert agent" means-

    (A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency-

    (i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and

    (ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States; or..." (EMPHASIS ADDED)


    If you want to quibble over the time frame, understand that neither Plame or the CIA has publicly provided proof that she met the 5 year requirement. And the fact that Armitage was not prosecuted proves that she did not.

    It is obvious that you are just trying to change the subject.


    If you don't like the subject being changed (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by jondee on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:36:13 AM EST
    then don't eat up bandwidth with the same boilerplate cut and paste job you posted ad nauseum eight years ago.  

    uh Jondee.... (1.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed May 15, 2013 at 12:52:49 PM EST
    In case you missed it is Donald who tried to change the subject by blaming Bush.

    I merely called him on it using FACTS.

    Now I know facts aren't your strong point, but they don't change.... in 8 seconds, eight years or 8 centuries.


    "Facts" (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by jondee on Wed May 15, 2013 at 01:21:52 PM EST
    from the guy who stopped following the latest scientific advances as soon as they began to conflict with Genesis and AM talk radio..

    If the overarching subject is the abuse of power in high places and it's effects in curbing our essential freedoms, then whether we're talking about Obama, Eric Holder, Bush, or Miss Piggy Rove we're dealing with the same recurrent phenomenon.    



    Jim's "facts" - aka "lies" (5.00 / 3) (#20)
    by Yman on Wed May 15, 2013 at 01:31:45 PM EST
    Because Plame was not, despite all the claims, a covert agent. At the time of Armitage's conversation with Novak she was not covered under the law:

    Let's look at the law:

    Actually, Jim - rather than look at a layperson's uninformed opinion of the law, let's look at Libby's sentencing memorandum:

    First, it was clear from very early in the investigation that Ms. Wilson qualified under the relevant statute (Title 50, United States Code, Section 421) as a covert agent whose identity had been disclosed by public officials, including Mr. Libby, to the press.

    Furthermore, the unclassified summary of Plame's CIA employment confirmed her status.

    Plame was `covert' agent at time of name leak:

    On 1 January 2002, Valerie Wilson was working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as an operations officer in the Directorate of Operations (DO). She was assigned to the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) at CIA Headquarters, where she served as the Chief of a CPD component with responsibility for weapons proliferation issues related to Iraq.

    While assigned to CPD, Ms. Wilson engaged in temporary duty (TDY) travel overseas on official business. She traveled at least seven times to more than ten countries.

    BTW - Armitage was not the only leak, Jim.  In fact, there were several people in the administration leaking her name to the press, including Armitage, Libby and Rove.

    Any other "Jim facts" (aka "lies") you need corrected?


    It's not the AP's... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:42:12 AM EST
    "classified information", it's the US Government's "classified information".  The US Government should get their own house in order, and their own people in line, instead of tapping the AP's phones to fix their problem with a leaker.  It's unacceptable any way you look at it.



    Good piont (none / 0) (#9)
    by Slado on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:24:29 AM EST
    The job of the press is to get information out.

    They already work with the government when requested too.   The filter of what gets in and out is the responsibility of the government not the press.

    This speaks to the larger narrative of government and executive branch competency.   Frankly if Obama did a better job running the executive branch none of these controversies would be at the level they are.

    The buck stops with Obama and these things show he's a better campaigner then executive.


    If I hire a guy... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:45:47 AM EST
    who steals printer cartridges and sells them on Ebay, I wouldn't blame Ebay or spy on Ebay.  I'd blame the guy I hired, and myself for hiring him.  Ebay is just doing their job, like the AP was just doing their job.

    Exactly (none / 0) (#13)
    by Slado on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:51:13 AM EST
    Even if you think the AP went too far that doesn't excuse the lengths the Justice Department went to.

    They simply overstepped their own rules.

    Been a lot of that going on lately.


    Rules are for the little people... (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Wed May 15, 2013 at 11:12:19 AM EST
    I might settle for occassional over-stepping...these motherf*ckers don't even think they apply.

    I don't even think the AP went too far...I want a free press actively looking for government sources to spill the beans and report the findings to the public, so we at least have half a clue what is being done in our names.  If it jams up the FBI or CIA so be it, I'm not a big fan anyway.


    Doesn't Matter... (none / 0) (#8)
    by ScottW714 on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:52:35 AM EST
    ...whether the AP is sympathetic organization or not. Laws are not dependent on popularity.

    After reading the AP response and because many recent revelations about the fed , I don't believe Holder or Obama.  The Fed is not respecting 4th Amendment, for any of us, why would the AP be any different.  It's inconceivable to me that the FBI is recording all electronic communications, yet some how managed to limit that data for the AP.

    I feel like we are reliving the Bush years, were revelations are coming out so quickly and of such grand proportions, they don't have have time to become scandals because the next revelation is right behind it, shadowing the previous revelation.

    This week is the point where I just can't believe the people in power anymore.  From plan B to GITMO to all this crap, they have decided that the government can do whatever the F it wants to.


    For Holder and the Admin, this will not (none / 0) (#6)
    by scribe on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:36:57 AM EST
    turn out badly.

    Holder will go up to Congress today to testify and intone in deep, sonorous tones that he cannot comment on the matter because there is an ongoing criminal investigation.

    And Congress will make noise and give up.

    And they'll all go home making like they did something positive.

    Possibly (none / 0) (#14)
    by Slado on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:53:30 AM EST
    However if Obama doesn't clean house and do a Reagan style apology on TV this will damage him forever.

    It will always linger but more so if he doesn't fire people and apologize.

    I don't think he has it in him but we'll see.


    Better (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:59:58 AM EST
    yet he should say he's getting rid of the Patriot Act to make sure there are not any possibility of "blurred lines" in this kind of thing anymore. He should immediately tell congress to put it to a vote and he will sign it. I'm not holding my breath though.

    it will always linger.. (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by jondee on Wed May 15, 2013 at 01:48:58 PM EST
    for some people, no matter what he did before, or does afterward.

    Just like this lingering idea that the Tea Party is an educational organization.


    Very weak retort jondee (none / 0) (#23)
    by Slado on Wed May 15, 2013 at 02:25:21 PM EST
    These scandals are confirmation of what has been common knowledge for a while.

    Obama is not an executive.  He is a hands off president and a lot of the issues he has are a direct result of the "leadership" style.



    We should have elected (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:02:22 PM EST
    a CEO like Bush or Romney.  Got it.

    We need a decider in chief (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:03:58 PM EST
    who makes decisions based on gut instinct...just like W.

    Or because god told him so. (5.00 / 0) (#32)
    by Angel on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:06:05 PM EST
    "God told me to invade Iraq."

    There isn't a "big government" Democrat (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by jondee on Thu May 16, 2013 at 12:15:23 PM EST
    in history whose leadership style you'd approve of. Let's be candid.

    "Reagan style apology"??? (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Yman on Wed May 15, 2013 at 03:18:55 PM EST
    What is that a reference to?

    Yes, An Apology Equivalent... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by ScottW714 on Wed May 15, 2013 at 03:39:49 PM EST
    ...of selling arms to Iran to fund a secret war.

    And you know this two days after it was uncovered, before any type of meaningful investigation.  That froth over getting Obama is effecting your rationality.

    It's nearly impossible to take anything you write seriously.


    Reagan and the White House (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by MKS on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:12:06 PM EST
    were directly involved in Iran Contra.

    Nothing here implicates the White House or Obama directly.  You can blame hims as head of the government, but there is nothing here even remotely on a par with Iran Contra.

    To apologize, you have to acknowledge you would do things differently--that you personally made a mistake...What personal mistake did Obama make?  Or the White House?


    Right... (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by ScottW714 on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:27:02 PM EST
    ...and the point of my post, a little premature to be making those kinds of proclamations.

    I can't help but find the sweet irony in the right going after Obama with such vigor, but having to use use Reagan and Nixon as the baseline for sandal protocol.  

    Because Clinton just won't do.