(CNSNews.com) – In light of questions over the Justice Department seizing communications from reporters and editors at the Associated Press and Fox News, President Barack Obama announced Thursday that Attorney General Eric Holder would conduct a review of Justice Department investigations involving journalists.
The review will involve Holder and Justice Department officials discussing matters with representatives from various media organizations.
“Now the Justice Department’s investigation of national security leaks offers a recent example of the challenges involved in striking the right balance between our security and an open society,” Obama said during an address at the National Defense University in Washington.
“As commander-in-chief, I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information,” he added.
Holder has come under fire for the investigations into reporters’ phone records and e-mails from the AP and Fox. However, both Obama and Holder have insisted on the importance of investigations protecting national security.
“Free press is also essential for our democracy,” Obama said in his address Thursday. “That’s who we are. I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations could chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law.
“That’s why I call on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government overreach,” Obama continued.
“I’ve raised these issues with the attorney general, who shares my concerns. So he’s agreed to review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters. He’ll convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review. I’ve directed the attorney general to report back to me by July 12,” he said.