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October 15, 2007
Vote in House on Reporter's "Shield Law"
A bill that would shield a reporter's sources and protect the reporter from prosecution is moving to a vote today in the House:
A House bill that would help reporters protect confidential sources will pass easily this week, supporters say, despite opposition from the Bush administration. In effect, the bill would make it easier for the New York Times to spill the beans on any national security matter they deemed worthy of printing, regardless of the harm done or the possibility that such revelations would get our troops killed in the field.
"I believe we'll have a strong bipartisan vote," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., the bill's co-author.
The Justice Department sees the proposed reporters' shield law, as it is called, as an obstacle to law enforcement. It could "seriously impede our ability to investigate and prosecute national security matters," spokesman Peter Carr said last week.
While some protections are clearly necessary the fact is reporters have abused the privilege in court cases as well as national security matters. Witnesses that could prove the guilt or innocence of defendants have remained under wraps by reporters who claim if they divulged the names of their source, it would act as a disincentive for others to talk to the press anonymously.
The measure is seen as having a hard time in the Senate where many Republicans fear that shielding reporters from the consequences of printing classified information would lead to the spilling of secrets for partisan or ideological reasons.
The President is expected to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.