The Free Flow of Information Act passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday by a vote of 14-6, a measure that gives unprecedented protections to media outlets that leak classified information, like, say, the NSA’s terrorist surveillance program revealed by the New York Times or the CIA’s secret terrorist jails revealed by the Washington Post. It also for the first time places some national security decisions under the purview of a federal judge.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, again raised red flags about the so-called media shield law, warning that Democrats voted down in committee amendments specifically designed to protect our troops.
“As our troops prepare for a surge in Afghanistan, the majority blocked an amendment to protect the secrecy of troop movements and battle plans,” Sessions said. “The rejection of these and other amendments recklessly imperils the security of our citizens and our soldiers, and leaves in place a bill that is deeply and fundamentally flawed.”
“This legislation will, for the first time in the history of our country, give a federal court privilege to those involved in the criminal leaking of classified information,” Sessions warned. “It is an unprecedented measure that will further hamstring the government’s ability to keep its most vital operations confidential — even when the lives of innocent Americans are at stake.”
Top security and intelligence experts oppose the measure, including former Attorney General Mike Mukasey, Former CIA and NSA Director General Michael Hayden, as well President Obama’s own FBI Director and Secretary of Defense.
“Supporters of this legislation have provided no real rationale for enacting such a risky measure,” Sessions continued. “There have been only 19 cases between 1994 and 2006 when journalists were subpoenaed for source information. The Department of Justice has used its subpoena authority both sparingly and responsibly. Its officials are already bound by strict and rigorously enforced guidelines.”
Currently, subpoenas are subject to judicial scrutiny and review.
“These are strong protections,” Sessions said. “But this legislation goes much, much further. It takes the extraordinary step of transferring core determinations about national security from the executive to the judicial branch. Any single judge would effectively have the authority to kill a criminal or national security investigation — even if the subpoena is legally sound — simply because that judge makes a political decision that the investigation is not in the public interest.”
Sessions also cautioned the measure leaves too broad a definition of the “journalist” qualifier.
“Another troubling flaw in the legislation is its inability to state with sufficient clarity who qualifies as a journalist, and thus, who can challenge and quash federal subpoenas that other Americans could not,” Sessions said. “This is a serious concern. The shield could potentially apply to everyone from high school kids in a journalism class to those producing tracts for extremist groups. We are rushing into perilous and uncharted waters.”
“Simply put, I oppose this legislation because it is not just a shield for journalists,” Sessions added. “It is a shield for those who leak vital information. And it is a set of handcuffs on the wrists of federal investigators. We are moving in reverse: the Free Flow of Information Act will result in more of our nation’s secrets flowing freely to our enemies — while less information flows to those we entrust with keeping us safe.”
Dems Seek to Establish Permanent Bailout Slush Fund
The House is set to vote today on final passage of Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-Mass.) Financial Services Bill that would permanently establish a $200 billion TARP Wall Street bailout fund that would allow the Federal Reserve to deem a business “too big to fail,” providing the authority for the Fed to step in and take it over.
This week Treasury Secretary (and serial tax cheat) Tim Geithner announced he was extending the current $700 billion TARP government slush fund through October 2010 which would act as a bridge until the permanent slush fund is established by the Frank bill.
Republicans strongly oppose the measure, preferring instead a structure of enhanced bankruptcy for troubled companies.
“The American people have had it with borrowing and spending and bailouts, and House Republicans will stand… four-square with the American people in our opposition to the Democrat plan for financial regulatory reform,” said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Chairman of the House Republican Conference. “The Democrat plan for financial regulatory reform is nothing more than a permanent bailout and a job-killer, and it must be opposed.”
“Economic freedom means the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail,” Pence added. “House Republicans will offer a Motion to Recommit this bill back to its original committee of jurisdiction, with a simple instruction: end the TARP program entirely and use the leftover money to reduce the deficit. We will have an up-or-down vote, on the floor of this Congress, on the subject of bailouts.”
SBA List Ad Campaign Highlights Lincoln Health Care Votes
The Susan B. Anthony List yesterday announced a radio ad campaign aimed at informing the substantial Christian community in Arkansas of Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s (D-Ark.) votes on health care reform. [Listen to the Lincoln Ad]
“Senator Lincoln’s vote to advance the Senate health care bill opened the door for the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade," said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Even worse, just this week Lincoln opposed a measure to prevent the funding of abortion on-demand at Arkansas taxpayers’ expense. You can’t find greater common ground than the decision to restrict government funding for abortion on-demand. Yet Senator Lincoln continues to ignore the common ground and vote against Arkansas values.”
The Susan B. Anthony list is a nationwide network of Americans, over 167,000 residing in all 50 states, dedicated to mobilizing, advancing, and representing pro-life women in politics.