AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt has called the Justice Department's actions in the AP case "unconstitutional" and he has protested what he termed a massive and unprecedented intrusion into how news organizations go about gathering the news.
Pruitt said the seizure already has had a chilling effect on newsgathering.
Following the president's speech, AP spokeswoman Erin Madigan said, "We recognize that the guidelines need improvement and support a review under the right conditions."
The Justice Department is guided by policy that first was written 40 years ago after the excesses of the Watergate era. Investigators are not supposed to consider a subpoena for journalists' phone records unless "all reasonable attempts" have been made to get the same information from other sources, the rules say.
News organizations are supposed to get advance warning so that they can fight a subpoena in court, except if the notification could compromise the investigation. AP received no advance warning.
The attorney general also must personally approve the subpoena before it is issued. In the AP case, Holder had been interviewed by the FBI as part of its effort to find out who had improperly disclosed the information, so he stepped aside to avoid a conflict of interest and left the decision to Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
Obama offered no apologies for his administration's aggressive pursuit of leakers. The six prosecutions since he took office in 2009 is more than in all other presidencies combined.
"As commander in chief, I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information," he said.