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Playing Hardball With the Press

Former DOJ public affairs director Mark Corallo has some harsh words for the department’s decision to subpoena reporters in the Barry Bonds-steroids case:

Subpoenas issued last month to reporters for The San Francisco Chronicle were criticized yesterday by a former chief spokesman for Attorney General John Ashcroft as a “reckless abuse of power.”
The former spokesman, Mark Corallo, made similar statements in an affidavit filed in federal court yesterday. He said Mr. Ashcroft’s successor, Alberto R. Gonzales, had acted improperly in issuing the subpoenas. […]
Mr. Gonzales has defended his decision to issue the subpoenas. “I think it was information that was necessary, that we needed to have in connection with that investigation,” he told the editorial board of The Houston Chronicle last month.
Mr. Corallo said he had used a different standard, one rooted in Justice Department policy.
“It has to be a matter of grave national security or impending physical harm to innocent people,” he said, “not just, well, this is the only way we’re going to be able to get this information.”

I think I agree with Mark on this one, although we might draw the line in different places. I wouldn’t oppose a subpoena on, say, the NYT’s NSA story. But steroids in baseball? On the list of threats to our country, I think the Shambino ranks pretty low.

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