No apologies from President Barack Obama at a press conference on Thursday strongly defended the Department of Justice’s controversial secret seizure of journalists’ phone records during an investigation into leaked national security information.
“Leaks related to national security can put people at risk,” Obama said in response to a reporter’s question as he stood beside visiting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at a Rose Garden press conference.
“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.
And the flip side of it is, we also live in a democracy where a free press, free expression and the open flow of information helps hold me accountable, helps hold our government accountable and helps our democracy function.”
In keeping with the White House’s official reaction since news of the seizures broke last Friday, Obama refused to comment specifically on the case, citing its ongoing nature.
Instead, he stressed the “balance” he believes is necessary between freedom of the press and the security of individuals potentially harmed by leaked information.
The president voiced support for New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s plan to reintroduce legislation granting reporters and their sources federal protections, known as a media “shield” law.