Shielding Reporters:

The Justice Department is opposing a bill sponsored by conservative Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) that protects journalists from having to reveal their confidential sources. Thirty-one states have shield laws for reporters, but the lack of a federal statute prompted Pence to draft the Free Flow of Information Act (HR 3323). The jailing of New York Times reporter Judith Miller for her refusal to testify about the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame spurred action on the bill. In an attempt to appease the Bush Administration, Pence agreed to revise the bill by compelling journalists to testify in the interest of national security. However, Deputy Atty. Gen. James Comey attacked the measure as “imposing inflexible, mandatory standards” on the Justice Department. Pence retorted to the Washington Post: “As a conservative who believes in limited government, I believe the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press, and confidential sources are at the heart of that.”


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