Apparently it never occurred to Attorney General Eric Holder that the Associated Press might be "too big to fail." If it had, then his Justice Department probably never would have investigated it.
The AP isn't just any news agency. It's the largest one in the United States and one of the three largest in the world, along with Great Britain's Reuters and Agence France-Presse. And it is, understandably enough, angry.
So are journalists who work for other outlets, along defenders of a free press and supporters of an informed citizenry. Journalists must be free of direct or implied intimidation if democracy is to work properly. And yet, correspondents who cover this Administration will often admit privately that they do feel intimidated.
"Twice as much as all previous administrations combined"
A free press sometimes makes powerful people uncomfortable. It can even cause them considerable inconvenience. Actions against journalists must be very carefully weighed against democratic principle and fundamental freedoms. Instead, this White House has been as zealous as its Republican predecessors -- in many ways, more so -- both in its pursuit of low-level officials who leak information to reporters, and in its pursuit of reporters themselves.
The AP investigation, which seems quite broad, is only one example of that. As The New York Times reports: "Under President Obama, six current and former government officials have been indicted in leak-related cases so far, twice the number brought under all previous administrations combined."
Even the Bush Administration didn't find it necessary to pursue journalists and truth-revealing Americans as fiercely as the Obama White House.
"Too big to jail"
Holder said today that investigators were pursuing a "very serious" leak which "put the American people at risk" and therefore required "very aggressive action." That approach stands in stark contrast to his comments about bank prosecutions this past March, when he said: "the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them (because) if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy."
Holder's comment appears to be disingenuous on its face, since he fails to explain how prosecuting individual wrongdoers at those institutions would threaten the national or world economy. That's the primary demand of those who criticize his failure to investigate or prosecute Wall Street criminals.
Subpoena these records
It's also why the Home Defenders League has announced a week of action starting May 20 to demand an end to the Obama/Holder "too big to jail" policy. That policy has led to extraordinary prosecutorial passivity in the face of overwhelming evidence. There's certainly no sign that the Justice Department has ever sought the phone records or emails of America's top bankers.
That's not for a lack of promising leads to pursue, including: