May 15, 2013

Wyden Statement on the Government Acquisition of AP Phone Records

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) released the following statement in response to press reports about government collection of the Associated Press’ phone records. Wyden, a senior member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has long been a staunch advocate for press freedom.

“I am very troubled by the recent reports of the government acquiring large amounts of the Associated Press’ phone records. The breadth of these subpoenas raises serious questions about how the government conducts national security investigations including the degree of judicial oversight. Once private communications are revealed to the government that bell cannot be unrung. The open and informed debate that our democracy depends upon requires that journalists – including those who write about sensitive national security issues – be able to do their jobs without the fear of being subjected to government surveillance. The Department of Justice has rules in place that are supposed to prevent legitimate law enforcement activities from undermining freedom of the press. It is the responsibility of the Justice Department to explain to Congress and the public how the broad surveillance that has been reported could possibly be consistent with those rules. Given the breadth of the reported acquisition Congress may also need to evaluate the effectiveness of those rules.”