Nightly News   |  May 13, 2013

Justice Department obtains AP phone records

An investigation into who leaked information to the AP in May 2012 about a CIA operative who helped prevent an al Qaeda plot has resulted in what the AP calls a “massive unprecedented intrusion” by the Justice Department. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> now to another developing story that broke in washington late today. word that the justice department secretly obtained two months worth of phone record of several reporters and editors and officeses at the associated press. the a.p. is calling this a massive and unprecedented intrusion into their constitutional right to report the news. nbc's tom costello is standing by in our d.c. bureau with more on this. tom, good evening.

>> this is a late breaking story with the associated press moving this throughout the afternoon. it talks about the fact that this is an unprecedented breach and it impact it is activities of the a.p., the primary news wire for the united states . this centers around an investigation into who leaked information to the a.p. in may of 2012 about a cia operative in yemen who helped e prevent an al qaeda plot to bring down a u.s.-bound airliner with a bomb. the obama administration was furious about that leak, claiming it jeopardized national security . to find out who might have been the leaker, the a.p. claims the justice department obtained lists of incoming and outgoing phone calls from a.p. editors and reporters as well as reporters' personal phone numbers over a two-month period. normally justice department rules require that to be personally approved by the attorney general. in a letter to attorney general holder today the president and ceo of the a.p. writes there can be no possible justification for such an overboard collection of the telephone communicationses of the a.p. and its reporters. we regard this as a serious interference with a.p.'s constitutional rights to gather and report the news. while we evaluate our options we urgently request that you return to the a.p. the telephone toll records it is department subpoenaed and destroy all copies. the white house is referring all questions about this matter to the justice department . moments ago, as i seem sitting here i got an e-mail from the u.s. attorney who says we must notify the media in advance when we do subpoenas unless doing so would pose a threat to the integrity of the investigation. brian?

>> we'll hear more about this story. tom costello with the still breaking story in washington. thanks.