NEW YORK –- When Attorney General Eric Holder took reporters' questions Tuesday afternoon, several asked about the Justice Department’s sweeping seizure of Associated Press phone records, a move condemned by prominent journalists, media outlets and civil liberties advocates.

New York Times reporter Charlie Savage had a different question for Holder, who had just announced he'd recused himself from the AP leak investigation. "Are you also recused from the Stuxnet investigation out of Maryland?" Savage asked. Holder declined to comment, as the Times noted in Tuesday's story. The DOJ also didn't comment on that other leak investigation to the Times for a Monday story on the AP seizure. Times reporters had asked "whether a similar step was taken" in the secretly obtaining journalists records in the Maryland investigation.

The Times has reason to be concerned about whether investigators are using similar tactics. The Maryland case is believed to be focused on Times chief Washington correspondent David Sanger’s reporting on how the U.S. and Israel helped derail Iran’s nuclear program through cyberattacks. Sanger’s June scoop, along with the Times’ front-page article on Obama’s terrorist “kill list,” spurred Congressional calls to investigate the leaks of classified information.

Journalists have long feared a chilling effect resulting from the Obama administration's unprecedented number of prosecutions in leak cases. The seizure of two months worth of AP journalists phone records has only heightened concerns as the Maryland case continues.

The Washington Post reported in January that Holder appointed U.S. attorney for Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein to lead the inquiry following Sanger’s article and follow-up reporting in other outlets. According to Post, federal investigators had “increased pressure on current and former senior government officials suspected of involvement” in leaks about a secret operation that involved the Stuxnet computer worm.

A DOJ spokeswoman did not respond to questions regarding the Stuxnet investigation.

The Times isn't publicly addressing concerns over where the Stuxnet investigation may lead. "We’ve had no communication with the government," a Times spokeswoman told The Huffington Post.

The AP wasn’t informed that the government had obtained records for 20 phone lines until after the fact. The secret seizure broke with typical protocol between news organizations and the government, but is not illegal. The DOJ’s subpoena not only targeted reporters and an editor directly involved in a May 2012 story on a thwarted terrorist plot in Yemen, but also the AP Washington bureau chief and switchboard lines widely used by reporters at the news organization.

Holder didn’t allay fears within the press on Wednesday by telling NPR that he’s “not sure” how many times his department has secretly obtained records of journalists’ work during leak investigations.

So far, Holder’s department hasn't provided any new details to counter the AP’s long-running claim that the news organization held off publishing its May 2012 story until officials said they no longer had concerns that a "sensitive intelligence operation was still under way" and because the administration planned to publicly announced the thwarted plot the following day. (Sanger could make a similar claim, having told Gawker in June that “no government agency formally requested that I not publish the story.”)

HuffPost’s Ryan Reilly and Sam Stein wrote Tuesday that Holder’s defense of his department's actions “could be distilled down to a simple plea: trust us, we mean no harm.”

Holder's defense didn't sit well with the Times editorial board. In a Wednesday editorial, Times editors blasted the AP records seizure as "a fishing expedition for sources and an effort to frighten off whistle-blowers." The editorial also noted two "major press investigations," including one believed focused on Sanger's reporting.

"These tactics will not scare us off, or The AP," Times editors wrote, "but they could reveal sources on other stories and frighten confidential contacts vital to coverage of government."

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • From left, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md., Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Rep, Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, and many House Democrats walk out of the Capitol during the vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, Thursday, June 28, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., left, and the committee's ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., go to the House Rules Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, to argue procedures as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on whether Attorney General Eric Holder is in contempt of Congress because he has refused to give the Oversight Committee all the documents it wants related to Operation Fast and Furious, the flawed gun-smuggling probe involving Mexican drug cartels. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., left, stretches out her hand to get the attention of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, as the panel considers a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member, sits between them. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20: House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) (C) talks with raking member U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (L) during a mark up hearing on Capitol Hill June 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. Issa and the committee Republicans called the hearing to vote on holding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over documents the GOP says are key to their investigation into the failed Fast and Furious operation. Before the start of the hearing, the White House asserted the documents are protected by executive privilidge. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., center, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, confers with an aide as the panel considers a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member, second from left, speaks with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who authored an amendment in support of Holder. In a showdown with President Barack Obama's administration, House Republicans had pressed for more Justice Department documents on the flawed gun-smuggling probe known as Operation Fast and Furious that resulted in hundreds of guns illicitly purchased in Arizona gun shops winding up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, center, debates Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee considers a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., right, considers whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member, speaks at left. In a showdown with President Barack Obama's administration, House Republicans are pressing for more Justice Department documents on the flawed gun-smuggling probe known as Operation Fast and Furious that resulted in hundreds of guns illicitly purchased in Arizona gun shops winding up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20: House Oversight and Government Reform raking member U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (R) hears from U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) during a mark up hearing with June 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and the committee Republicans called the hearing to vote on holding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over documents the GOP says are key to their investigation into the failed Fast and Furious operation. Before the start of the hearing, the White House asserted the documents are protected by executive privilidge. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Attorney General Eric holder speaks to reporters following his meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Holder wants a House panel to drop plans to try to hold him in contempt of Congress, and the panel's chairman wants more Justice Department documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-smuggling probe in Arizona. Holder and Rep. Issa met in an effort to resolve their dispute over the investigation of Fast and Furious by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Issa chairs.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., speaks to reporters following his meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Holder wants a House panel to drop plans to try to hold him in contempt of Congress, and the panel's chairman wants more Justice Department documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-smuggling probe in Arizona. Holder and Issa met in an effort to resolve their dispute over the investigation of Fast and Furious by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Issa chairs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Attorney General Eric Holder speaks to reporters following his meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Holder wants a House panel to drop plans to try to hold him in contempt of Congress, and the panel's chairman wants more Justice Department documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-smuggling probe in Arizona. Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, met in an effort to resolve their dispute over the investigation of Fast and Furious by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Issa chairs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Attorney General Eric Holder walks through Statuary Hall to speak to reporters following his meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • FILE -In this Dec. 8, 2011 file photo, House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., left, shakes hands with Attorney General Eric Holder on Capitol Hill in Washington. Holder is proposing to meet with Issa by Monday to settle a dispute over Justice Department documents the congressman is demanding on a flawed gun-smuggling probe. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)