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May 15, 2013

Lawmakers accuse Obama administration of abusing free speech rights

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers accused the Obama administration on Wednesday of trampling on free speech rights and evading questions about the Justice Department’s secret seizure of Associated Press telephone records.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying before a House of Representatives panel, provided limited responses on the issue, noting he had been recused from the probe into a government leak that led to the records seizure.

May 15, 2013

Once a beacon, Obama under fire over civil liberties

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – He may have been the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He may have written a book extolling constitutional values in a democracy. And he may have run for president on a civil liberties banner, pledging to reverse the legacy of George W. Bush.

But as U.S. president for the last 4-1/2 years, Barack Obama has faced accusation after accusation of impinging on civil liberties, disappointing his liberal Democratic base and providing fodder for rival Republicans as he deals with the realities of office.

May 15, 2013

Analysis: Once a beacon, Obama under fire over civil liberties

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – He may have been the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He may have written a book extolling constitutional values in a democracy. And he may have run for president on a civil liberties banner, pledging to reverse the legacy of George W. Bush.

But as U.S. president for the last 4-1/2 years, Barack Obama has faced accusation after accusation of impinging on civil liberties, disappointing his liberal Democratic base and providing fodder for rival Republicans as he deals with the realities of office.

May 15, 2013

FBI opens criminal probe of U.S. tax agency, audit cites disarray

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he had ordered the FBI to open a criminal probe in a growing scandal over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups for extra tax scrutiny.

Holder’s announcement came about four hours before an inspector general’s report on the IRS portrayed the tax agency as plagued by disarray and “insufficient oversight” during its struggles to review the cases of hundreds of advocacy groups that claimed they should be tax exempt.

May 15, 2013

U.S. attorney general says he didn’t make AP phone records decision

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he did not make the controversial decision to secretly seize telephone records of the Associated Press but defended his department’s actions in the investigation of what he called a “very, very serious leak.”

The decision to seek phone records of one of the world’s largest news-gathering organizations was made by Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole, Holder said.

May 14, 2013

FBI to probe U.S. tax agency’s actions on conservative groups

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he had ordered the FBI to open a criminal probe in a growing scandal over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups for extra tax scrutiny.

Holder announced the Justice Department investigation as the tax agency’s embattled acting commissioner, Steven Miller, traveled to Capitol Hill for meetings on the scandal amid Republican lawmakers’ calls for his resignation.

May 14, 2013

U.S. Attorney General Holder recused himself from media subpoena

WASHINGTON, May 14 (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric
Holder said on Tuesday that he had recused himself from the
Justice Department’s controversial decision to secretly seize
telephone records of the Associated Press.

Instead, the decision to seek phone records of one of the
world’s largest news-gathering organizations was made by the
deputy attorney general, Holder said. Jim Cole currently holds
that position.

May 13, 2013

Associated Press says U.S. government seized journalists’ phone records

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Associated Press on Monday said the U.S. government secretly seized telephone records of AP offices and reporters for a two-month period in 2012, describing the acts as a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into news-gathering operations.

AP Chief Executive Gary Pruitt, in a letter posted on the agency’s website, said the AP was informed last Friday that the Justice Department gathered records for more than 20 phone lines assigned to the agency and its reporters.

May 3, 2013

New Zealand’s internet bad boy wants to see top lawman

WASHINGTON/WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A trip to New Zealand will put America’s chief prosecutor on the same soil as a flashy internet mogul who is fighting extradition to the United States on charges he assisted massive piracy of copyrighted movies and music.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visits New Zealand next week for an annual meeting of a “quintet” of attorneys general from mostly English-speaking countries – and not to meet up with the entrepreneur Kim Dotcom.

Apr 26, 2013

Analysis: In force-feeding detainees, Obama has courts on his side

WASHINGTON/MIAMI (Reuters) – As detainees at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, press ahead with a widening hunger strike nearly three months old, President Barack Obama has come under increasing criticism for his policy of force-feeding them.

But U.S. law is on his side, an analysis of court rulings shows.

Most U.S. judges who have examined forced feeding in prisons have concluded that the measure may violate the rights of inmates to control their own bodies and to privacy – rights rooted in the U.S. Constitution and in common law. But they have found that the needs of operating a prison are more important.