Washington: US President Barack Obama strongly believes the need to maintain a balance between freedom of press and that there is no leak to any classified information that threatens national security, the White House said on Tuesday.
"The President feels strongly that the press to be able to be unfettered in its pursuit of investigative journalism. When he was a senator, the President co-sponsor legislation that would have provided further protections for journalists in this regard," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
"He is also mindful of the need for secret and classified information to remain secret and classified in order to protect our national security interests. So there is a careful balance here that must be attained," Carney said responding to a volley of questions from the White House media on the news report that the Department of Justice collected phone records of editors and reporters of the Associated Press news agency.
Carney, however, did not respond to specific questions on Associated Press allegations.
"What I can tell you is that this president believes strongly in the First Amendment and is a strong defender of the First Amendment. He believes strongly in the need for the press to be unfettered in its pursuit of investigative journalism," he said.
"He also believes strongly, as a citizen and as president, in the need to ensure that classified information is not leaked because it can endanger our national security interest; it can endanger American men and women around the world. But I cannot and he cannot appropriately comment on the specifics of an ongoing criminal investigation," Carney said.
Obama, he said, absolutely believes in the need for the press to be able to pursue unfettered investigative journalism.
"But I can`t then take that to a specific case that`s been reported in the press -- again, that we learned about from the press -- appropriately, because if we learned about it any other way, it would be inappropriate," he said.