Lindsey Graham Calls for Special Counsel on Fox News Targeting

Image: Lindsey Graham Calls for Special Counsel on Fox News Targeting

Sunday, 26 May 2013 12:08 PM

By Audrey Hudson

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Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Sunday called for a special counsel to investigate the Justice Department’s subpoena of a Fox News reporter’s phone records saying the attorney general cannot impartially review a decision that he approved.

“This is clearly an overreach,” Graham said on "Fox News Sunday."

The Fox News case differs from the Justice Department's obtaining records from Associated Press reporters because investigators labeled James Rosen, a reporter for Fox, as a co-conspirator in the espionage case in an affidavit in order to obtain phone and email records.

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“James Rosen is a lot of things, but a criminal co-conspirator he is not,” Graham said. “We’re beginning to criminalize journalism and I think that should worry us all.”

President Barack Obama last week asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the Fox News matter, but Holder has admitted to signing off on the Rosen records’ request.

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma stopped short of calling for a special counsel, but told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Holder should not be allowed to investigate himself.

“I think it’s a total conflict of interest,” Coburn said. “I certainly think we need to separate it from the authority of the attorney general since the decisions were made either by him, or under him, and I don’t think he can investigate himself.”

Democrats have joined Republicans in criticizing the Justice Department’s investigation of the news agencies records to determine the sources of leaks about stories involving North Korea and a planned terrorist attack on the United States.

But on the Sunday talk-show circuit Democrats seemed more willing to defend the government’s actions.

Asked by Fox News' host Chris Wallace if he thought an independent counsel should be appointed, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois called it “an interesting point” but declined to make any demands.

Durbin argued that the government has an obligation to go after those who leak classified information to the press, especially if the content would endanger military forces.

Digressing to a different issue, Durbin said the question lawmakers need to address is whether bloggers or “someone who tweets” is entitled to the same constitutional protections as journalists.

“We need to ask 21st Century questions about a provision in our Constitution that was written over 200 years ago,” Durbin said.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers in the Senate are working on a so-called media shield law to address concerns raised by the Justice Department’s actions.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York disclosed a key element of the bill that will likely be a contentious measure among reporters: a “balancing test” giving a judge the authority to determine which is more important when determining search warrants – the government’s desire to find out who leaked the information, or freedom of the press.

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“If we can set up these rules I think we can avoid the morass,” Schumer told, “Face the Nation.”

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