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Amid protests left and right, Holder says he had no role in secret review of AP phone records

Tuesday - 5/14/2013, 8:30pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Eric Holder is defending the Justice Department's secret examination of Associated Press phone records, while at the same time declaring he had played no role in it.

Holder says the records seizure was justified as part of an investigation into a "grave" national security leak that he says "put the American people at risk."

Federal officials have said investigators are trying to hunt down the sources for a May 7, 2012, AP story that disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot around the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The government obtained the records from April and May of 2012 for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists. AP's top executive called the action a massive and unprecedented intrusion into how news organizations do their work.

The action has created a bipartisan political headache for President Barack Obama, with prominent Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill expressing outrage, along with press freedom groups.

%@AP Links

226-w-34-(Warren Levinson, AP correspondent, with Laura Malone, Associated Press general counsel)--The Justice Department has given the Associated Press some information about why it's lookng at the news agency's telephone records. AP correspondent Warren Levinson reports. (14 May 2013)

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192-a-13-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"way investigative journalism"-White House press secretary Jay Carney says President Obama believes in a balance between protecting reporters' sources and preventing leaks that can endanger America's security. (14 May 2013)

<> 00:13 "way investigative journalism"

193-a-10-(Jay Carney, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"harm to individuals"-White House press secretary Jay Carney says Obama, as commander-in-chief, must protect classified information. (14 May 2013)

<> 00:10 "harm to individuals"

227-a-13-(Laura Malone, Associated Press general counsel, in AP interview)-"order to report"-Associated Press general counsel Laura Malone says the secret subpoena of phone records is a serious breach. ((longer version of cut used in wrap)) (14 May 2013)

<> 00:13 "order to report"

228-a-13-(Laura Malone, Associated Press general counsel, in AP interview)-"can do next"-Associated Press general counsel Laura Malone says the AP is formulating a legal response. (14 May 2013)

<> 00:13 "can do next"

APPHOTO DCSA206: 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) (14 May 2013)

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APPHOTO DCCO114: Associated Press reporters and editors work in their assigned space in the House Press Gallery in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The Justice Department secretly obtained telephone records from April and May of 2012 of reporters and editors for the AP in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) (14 May 2013)

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APPHOTO DCCO112: Associated Press reporters and editors work in their assigned space in the House Press Gallery on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The Justice Department secretly obtained telephone records from April and May of 2012 of reporters and editors for the AP in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) (14 May 2013)

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APPHOTO NYML102: Editorial employees walk through the headquarters of The Associated Press in New York on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The Justice Department secretly obtained telephone records from April and May of 2012 of reporters and editors for the AP in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) (14 May 2013)

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