House Passes Shield Law that would protect Media Sources

In assasination, Bush/Cheney Administration, media, U.S government on October 18, 2007 by Editor Z

A federal shield law that would protect journalists against being sopenead or being forced to disclose the names and information of sources, was approved by the U.S House of Representatives by a broad and bipartisan margin on Tuesday.

The “Free Flow of Information Act” sponsored by Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Representative Mike Pence (R-IN), was approved by 398-21.

A similar piece of legislation is expected to be brought before the U.S Senate sometime next month.

Never before has there been a federal shield law such as this, which protects journalists from revealing sources, who might fear intimidation or reprisal for disclosing information of wrong doing, especially in government and corporate America amongst other places. Between 30 and 39 States already have similar shield laws at the state level.
But the legislation is not without controversy or detractors. The Bush administration is threatening to veto such a measure if it is to also pass the Senate, however if the Senate is able to garner 3/4ths of the senate to approve such a legislation, that veto would be overridden. The administration states that it fears that such a shield law could hamper National Security, the war on terrorism, and also make the prosecution and investigations against those who reveal classified government individuals, despite that the measure does not cover instances where national security was found to be damaged, if a terrorist attack was involved.

However there are some who wanted the legislation to offer protections to members of the student press as well as bloggers. But the legislation in its current state would only provide such protections for those who are professionals involved in gathering and reporting news and professional bloggers.

Source for information above: Reuters and arstechnica

MY TAKE: As an aspiring journalist and one who believes in openness in our government, corporate structure, and all our institutions, I think this is a great development.

It is sad but not surprising that the Bush/Cheney administration opposes this. They prefer that the powers and knowledge of how the government and corporate America should operate in the realm of fields both foreign and domestic remain in the hands of they a small and ideological ruling elite in the executive branch. That the people can not be trusted in anyway. But hey what do you accept from Cheney, a guy with a hazmatt suit in the back of his car and who had a small role in the Nixon administration. It seems it is their philosophy that the legislature, the courts, the press,, and by extension the American people are thier opponents rather then thier compatriots.

On a more positive note I was happy and stunned by the margin that this vote passed and that it was so wide and bipartisan. This just goes to show that the constitution and the system just might be able to correct itself after all.

Nevertheless, the congress, the press, and the people should remain vigilante as they should with any administration, but specifically this one with its penchant for lies, secrecy, and recklessness. If this ultimately does pass the Senate by a veto proof majority (which I am somewhat cautiously optimistic that it will), they have to make sure that the administration doesn’t render this law irrelevant or water it down with one of their signing statements from their “Just Us” , I mean Justice Department.


One Response to “House Passes Shield Law that would protect Media Sources”

  1. Yea its great that it passed. I think Bush is going to try to veto it and it will get overridden though. It will protect a lot of reporters, and the news will be a little less censored for the public.

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