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AG Eric Holder on Ferguson No-Fly Zone: 'Transparency' Is Good

The attorney general said blocking news outlets from doing their job is "something that needs to be avoided."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that he does not know enough about the decision to close airspace above Ferguson, Missouri — reportedly to keep out the media during unrest — to say whether the Justice Department will investigate. But Holder did say that he supports "transparency" during news events. "Anything that would artificially inhibit the ability of news gatherers to do what they do I think is something that needs to be avoided," he said.

The Associated Press has reported that recordings obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveal that local authorities wanted the Federal Aviation Administration to close 37 miles of airspace around Ferguson to stop news helicopters from filming protests and clashes that erupted after a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August.

St. Louis Police have insisted the request was made solely for safety reasons, but one FAA manager said in a recorded telephone call that "they finally admitted it really was to keep the media out," the Associated Press reported. Another manager at the FAA's Kansas City center said police "did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn't want media in there."

Asked about the report at a news conference, Holder said he didn't know "an awful lot about what the nature of the request was and how it impacted news coverage and helicopters and things of that nature." Asked if a no-fly zone targeting news outlets something authorities could investigate, Holder said he didn't know enough about the situation and the communication between the FAA and the police to respond.