05/14/2013 11:47 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark Decries Government's "Big Brother" Seizure of AP Phone Records

The Associated Press says the U.S. Department of Justice has secretly obtained a trove of journalists' phone records in what its chief executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion."

"It seems to be terrible intrusion on the freedom of the press," says Ramsey Clark, the U.S. attorney general from 1967 to 1969, on Democracy Now! today. "I don't see how the press can operate effectively if the public and the people who talk to the press have to assume that big brother is listening in and sees the conversations they engage in."

The Obama administration seized records for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Connecticut, and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. More than 100 reporters work in the offices. The records were from April and May of 2012. Among those whose records were obtained were Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, three other reporters and an editor, all of whom worked on a May 7, 2012, story that revealed details about a CIA operation in Yemen which stopped an alleged terror plot. AP had delayed publication of the story at the government's request.