Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. defended the Justice Department’s seizure of telephone records from the Associated Press, calling an article that prompted the investigation one of "the top two or three most serious leaks" he’s ever seen, reports The New York Times.
As previously reported, the seizure sparked an angry outcry from the AP, lawmakers and the television industry.
AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll said on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" that the organization was "distressed" and added that no one at the AP has "ever seen anything like this,” TVNewser reports.
Holder said the AP’s reporting had "put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole,” The Times reports. He was apparently referring to a May 7, 2012, article that disclosed the foiling of a plot to bomb an airliner. "And trying to determine who was responsible for that, I think, required very aggressive action," he said.
The AP’s president and chief executive, Gary Pruitt, disputed Holder’s characterization. "We held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed,” Pruitt said. He added that the White House had been planning to publicly announce the news.