‘You Can’t Investigate Yourself’
May 26, 2013 - 4:50 pm
That’s what Senator Tom Coburn said on Face the Nation on Sunday of Eric Holder leading the investigation into the Justice Department seizure of phone records from AP reporters and other journalists.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Sunday said that Attorney General Eric Holder should not be in charge of investigating the Justice Department’s (DOJ) seizure of communication records of journalists who reported on classified information.
“You cannot investigate yourself,” said Coburn on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I think it’s a total conflict of interest.”
President Obama has stated that Holder is investigating claims that the DOJ overreached in its efforts to tamp down on leaks of confidential information.
Coburn stopped short of calling for special prosecutor to look into the claims that the DOJ breach reporters’ rights to privacy, as some Republicans lawmakers have done, however. But he insisted that someone other than Holder should lead the review.
“It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t investigate it,” Coburn said. “And it shouldn’t mean we shouldn’t be tough on that. But allowing the very person that authorized the two things that we are aware today to investigate whether or not he did that appropriately is inappropriate.
“I think we need to separate it from the attorney general, since the decisions were made by him or under him,” Coburn continued. “There’s an inherent conflict of interest in me judging whether or not I did something and reporting to the president.”
The criticism of the DOJ stems from an investigation of Fox News’s Washington correspondent James Rosen after he wrote a story in 2009 claiming that U.S. intelligence officials believed North Korea would likely test more nuclear weapons.
The agency allegedly kept track of Rosen’s phone records and visits to the State Department to trace the source of the leak.
Rosen was also dubbed a potential “criminal co-conspirator” in a warrant signed by Holder to allow law enforcement to seize the reporter’s private emails.
In a separate leak investigation, the DOJ also secretly seized over two months of phone records of Associated Press reporters.
Coburn is only reviewing the first act of this comedy. The second act is Obama putting Holder in charge of developing new DOJ guidelines for investigating journalists. The hubris is breathtaking.
Holder investigating himself to ferret out wrongdoing by himself has no parallel in recent history. We’ll all be pleased when the AG issues his report clearing himself and the Obama administration.