WITH ALL the attorneys in the U.S. Department of Justice, they surely know the importance of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of the press.

If they do know, it’s tragic that they are violating it.

The Associated Press reported last week that the DOJ secretly seized two months’ of its reporters’ telephone records. Apparently, this seizure was without following the steps that the government is supposed to take. In other words, the DOJ didn’t at first request that AP voluntarily provide information.

AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt was on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, and described the secret subpoenas as “so sweeping, so secretively, so abusively and harrassingly … overbroad, that it constitutes … an unconstitutional act.”

This isn’t the only time that the DOJ didn’t follow the usual procedure for obtaining records.

Another incident about a similar probe in 2009 was reported Sunday by the Washington Post.

After the recent investigation regarding AP, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, according to its website, sent a letter to the DOJ, “co-signed by 50 news organizations, calling on the government to return and destroy all copies of secretly subpoenaed phone records from The Associated Press during the course of another leak investigation. In addition, the letter asked for an explanation of the DOJ’s overbroad search and called for renewed vigor in the fight for a federal shield law to protect journalists’ confidential sources.”

Don’t think that the DOJ’s secretive actions don’t affect the public. As Pruitt said on “Face the Nation,” the government has no business monitoring AP’s newsgathering activities.

He went on to say, “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.”

In regard to the effect of the DOJ investigations, New York Times national-security reporter Mark Mazzetti has been quoted as saying things seem worse than they were under President Obama’s predecessors, including President George W. Bush and his father.

Such intrusions as that of the DOJ should NOT be tolerated.