The Associated Press issued a sharp rebuke on Tuesday to the Justice Department's contention that it was careful and measured in its secret probe of the news agency.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, the man who oversaw the investigation into the AP, told the wire service in a letter Tuesday that, contrary to its claims that it had been the victim of a "massive and unprecedented intrusion," the probe had been very targeted. Cole said that the secret subpoenas of phone records were "limited in both time and scope," and that the DOJ had taken every available measure to avoid having to obtain the records.

In his reply, AP CEO Gary Pruitt said Cole's explanation was simply not good enough. "We appreciate the DOJ’s prompt response, but it does not adequately address our concerns," he wrote.

Pruitt wondered how an investigation that targeted up to 100 journalists could be defined as "narrowly drawn." He also said he failed to see how a less narrow investigation would have compromised the DOJ's mission.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder—who has recused himself from the investigation—said that the DOJ probe occurred in response to one of the most serious and dangerous national security leaks he had ever seen.

Most observers have pointed to a 2012 story about a foiled Yemeni bomb plot as the likely source of the leak investigation. In his letter, Pruitt pointed out that the AP only published that story after "the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed."

Read the full text of the letter below:

We appreciate the DOJ’s prompt response, but it does not adequately address our concerns. The letter simply restates the law and claims that officials have complied with it. There are three significant concerns:

The scope of the subpoena was overbroad under the law, given that it involved seizing records from a broad range of telephones across AP’s newsgathering operation. More than 100 journalists work in the locations served by those telephones. How can we consider this inquiry to be narrowly drawn?

Rather than talk to us in advance, they seized these phone records in secret, saying that notifying us would compromise their investigation. They offer no explanation of this, however.

Instead they captured the telephone numbers between scores of AP journalists and the many people they talk to in the normal business of gathering news. How would narrowing the scope of the phone records have compromised their investigation?

In their response today, the DOJ says the seized records cover only a portion of April and May of 2012. However, in their original notification to us on May 10, they say they have “received toll records from April and May 2012,” and then list 20 different numbers for AP offices and staff.

Finally, they say this secrecy is important for national security. It is always difficult to respond to that, particularly since they still haven’t told us specifically what they are investigating.

We believe it is related to AP’s May 2012 reporting that the U.S. government had foiled a plot to put a bomb on an airliner to the United States. We held that story until the government assured us that the national security concerns had passed. Indeed, the White House was preparing to publicly announce that the bomb plot had been foiled.

The White House had said there was no credible threat to the American people in May of 2012. The AP story suggested otherwise, and we felt that was important information and the public deserved to know it.

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    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on May 14, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Jay Carney

    Reporters raise their hands as White House press secretary Jay Carney takes questions during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May, 14, 2013. Carney touched on various topics including the Justice Department's secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press and IRS. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Jay Carney

    White House press secretary Jay Carney, rear, is seen on a television monitor during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May, 14, 2013. Carney touched on various topics including the Justice Department's secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press and IRS. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Jay Carney

    White House press secretary Jay Carney pauses as he answers questions during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May, 14, 2013. Carney touched on various topics including the Justice Department's secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press and IRS. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • Jay Carney

    White House press secretary Jay Carney listens during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May, 14, 2013. Carney touched on various topics including the Justice Department's secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press and IRS. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

  • US-POLITICS-CARNEY

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, May 14, 2013. Carney said the White House had nothing to do with the operation to comb the AP's phone records -- as part of an apparent case targeting national security leakers. 'We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department,' said Carney. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-POLITICS-CARNEY

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, May 14, 2013. Jay Carney said the White House had nothing to do with the operation to comb the AP's phone records -- as part of an apparent case targeting national security leakers. 'We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department,' said Carney. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-POLITICS-CARNEY

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, May 14, 2013. Jay Carney said the White House had nothing to do with the operation to comb the AP's phone records -- as part of an apparent case targeting national security leakers. 'We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department,' said Carney. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • US-POLITICS-CARNEY

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, May 14, 2013. Carney said the White House had nothing to do with the operation to comb the AP's phone records -- as part of an apparent case targeting national security leakers. 'We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department,' said Carney. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Eric Holder

    Attorney General Eric Holder is questioned about the Justice Department secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. In what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion," the Justice Department monitored outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Eric Holder

    Attorney General Eric Holder leaves after taking questions about the Justice Department secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. In what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion," the Justice Department monitored outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Eric Holder

    Attorney General Eric Holder pauses during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The meeting with reporters was planned to announce Medicare Fraud Strike Force law enforcement actions, but was overshadowed by the Justice Department secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Eric Holder

    Attorney General Eric Holder is questioned about the Justice Department secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. In what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion," the Justice Department monitored outgoing calls for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Eric Holder

    Attorney General Eric Holder pauses during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The meeting with reporters was planned to announce Medicare Fraud Strike Force law enforcement actions, but was overshadowed by the Justice Department secretly obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Attorney General Holder Holds Press Conference At Justice Dep't

    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder holds a Medicare fraud news conference at which he said he recused himself last year from a national security leak probe in which prosecutors obtained the phone records of Associated Press journalists at the Justice Department May 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder faced a large number of questions about his department's investigation targeting phone records and data from the Associated Press. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Attorney General Holder Holds Press Conference At Justice Dep't

    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder holds a news conference about efforts by the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department to combat Medicare fraud at the Justice Department May 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder faced a large number of questions about his department's investigation targeting phone records and data from the Associated Press. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Attorney General Holder Holds Press Conference At Justice Dep't

    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder holds a news conference about efforts by the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department to combat Medicare fraud at the Justice Department May 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder faced a large number of questions about his department's investigation targeting phone records and data from the Associated Press. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Attorney General Holder Holds Press Conference At Justice Dep't

    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder holds a news conference about efforts by the Justice Department and the Health and Human Services Department to combat Medicare fraud at the Justice Department May 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. Holder faced a large number of questions about his department's investigation targeting phone records and data from the Associated Press. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)