Asked to address the controversial seizure of phone logs from Associated Press journalists by the Department of Justice, President Barack Obama on Thursday said he had no regrets for prosecuting individuals responsible for leaking classified information because they placed the country at risk.
“I make no apologies and I don’t think the American people would expect me as commander-in-chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed,” he said, standing alongside Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the White House Rose Garden.
“I also think it’s important to recognize,” he added, “that, you know, when we express concern about leaks at a time when I’ve still got 60,000 plus troops in Afghanistan and I’ve still got a whole bunch of intelligence officers around the world who are in risky situations in outposts that in some cases are as dangerous as the outpost in Benghazi, that part of my job is to make sure that we’re protecting what they do while still accommodating for the need for information.”
The Associated Press and a slew of media organizations filed vehement protests after the Department of Justice revealed it had seized phone records of three AP bureaus in connection to an investigation of an administration leak following a foiled bomb plot in Yemen last year.
Despite his administration’s extensive campaign to crack down on leaks, Obama added that an appropriate balance must be struck in order to protect journalists and the free flow of information. At the direction of the White House, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Wednesday that he will re-introduce so-called “media shield” legislation to provide legal protections to journalists engaged in news gathering activities.