The CEO of the Associated Press said the government’s unprecedented actions to seize phone records of reporters from the news organization was both unconstitutional and has had a chilling effect on sources.

The president and chief executive officer of The Associated Press on Sunday called the government’s secret seizure of two months of reporters’ phone records “unconstitutional” and said the news cooperative had not ruled out legal action against the Justice Department.

Gary Pruitt, in his first television interviews since it was revealed the Justice Department subpoenaed phone records of AP reporters and editors, said the move already has had a chilling effect on journalism. Pruitt said the seizure has made sources less willing to talk to AP journalists and, in the long term, could limit Americans’ information from all news outlets.

Was the point to terrify journalists and sources? Yes.  Mr. Pruitt identifies the ultimate goal of using state power to intimidate the press.

Pruitt told CBS’ ”Face the Nation” that the government has no business monitoring the AP’s newsgathering activities.

“And if they restrict that apparatus … the people of the United States will only know what the government wants them to know and that’s not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment,” he said.

The seizure was part of the Obama Administration’s Orwellian War On Leakers where government secrecy and opacity is paramount and citizen privacy is held in contempt. Of course, the war is really on unapproved leakers, the government leaks things all the time to help spin the press. No prosecutions forthcoming.

Anyone remember the leak to Michael Isikoff of the OLC Memos justifying the killing of Americans without due process? That was a major security breach that jeopardized national security policy. When is the Justice Department going to get to the bottom of that case? NBC get ready for the secret subpoena. Oh, wait, that served state power? That helped the Obama Administration work the press before a Senate hearing? Never mind let’s all move on.

The press has constitutional rights when it does what the government wants and none when it does not.