Bush Administration Opposes Bill to Shield Press Sources

April 9, 2008

"Attorney General Michael Mukasey and three other top Bush administration officials are weighing in against legislation that would allow reporters to protect the identities of confidential sources who provide sensitive, sometimes embarrassing information about the government," the Associated Press reports.

A bill before Congress known as the Free Flow of Information Act (S 2035, HR 2102) would give journalists limited protection from being compelled to reveal confidential sources. All 50 states have some form of shield law, but no similar protection exists at the federal level. A coalition of some 50 news media organizations and companies have called for passage of the legislation.

The bill, introduced in the Senate by Arlen Specter (R-PA) and in the House by Rick Boucher (D-VA), has passed the House and cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee, but is being blocked on the Senate floor by Jon Kyl (R-AZ).

"The legislation gives an overly broad definition of journalists that 'can include those linked to terrorists and criminals,' wrote Mukasey and National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell," the AP reported.

The Newspaper Association of America, which facilitated the media coalition letter, called the legislation "vitally important to the national interest and an informed citizenry."