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The Freedom Flow of Information Act would protect journalists from punishment if they decline to identify confidential sources in federal law enforcement proceedings

The Obama administration wants to create a federal media shield law by bringing an old bill back to life. 

Ed Pagano, President Obama’s Senate liaison, called Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday morning to inquire about a version of a 2009 bill called the Freedom Flow of Information Act. 

The Freedom Flow of Information Act would protect journalists from punishment if they decline to identify confidential sources in federal law enforcement proceedings. It would also allow journalists to ask a federal judge to destroy subpoenas for their phone records.

The bill would provide different levels of protection for journalists. Civil cases would receive the greatest protection, criminal cases would be similar (except the reporter would have to try and abolish the subpoena through a “clear and convincing” standard showing that the free flow of information is more important than the needs of law enforcement) and national security cases would lean in favor of the government. 

There were a couple of different versions of the bill, but the Obama administration is looking to recover the one supported by Schumer. It was jointly created by the newspaper industry and the White House, and even approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a bipartisan 15-to-4 vote in December 2009. However, issues with Wikileaks exposing confidential government information on the internet put the bill on hold.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder

The decision to bring this bill back to life comes amid controversy surrounding the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) subpoena to retrieve calling records of Associated Press reporters. 

DOJ used a subpoena (approved by Deputy James M. Cole) to obtain over 20 phone numbers from the Associated Press, including personal phones of AP editors/columnists and AP business phone numbers in New York; Hartford, Connecticut; and Washington. 

Furthermore, the DOJ did this without any advance notice. This puts the Associated Press' other private sources at risk and violates freedom of the press.

The reason for the subpoena was related to an article in which an unnamed government official leaked an account of a failed May 2012 bomb plot on an aircraft flying into the U.S. -- which involved the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda.

“This kind of law would balance national security needs against the public’s right to the free flow of information," said Schumer in regards to the Freedom Flow of Information Act. "At minimum, our bill would have ensured a fairer, more deliberate process in this case.”

Source: The New York Times

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RE: Damage control
By Mint on 5/16/2013 6:15:35 PM , Rating: 2
Look I get your have issues with Bush. Hell, we all did. But it's honestly time to put that aside. It's 2013 and he's been out of power for five years.
It's not just Bush. A central tenet of GOP strategy (and Fox News) was and remains to scare the public sh1tless about terrorism ever since 9/11, and furthermore anyone who opposes measures that superficially help combat terrorism is a traitor, weak willed, unfit to lead the country, etc. It's a strategy that helped Bush beat Kerry, and it fit well with the "Obama is a Muslim" lies as well.

If Obama ran a platform against the Patriot Act, you really think he'd win? Please, it would be a piece of cake to tar him as a terrorist-loving Muslim. How would the Boston bombings have been viewed with the Patriot Act unrenewed? People would be putting the victims' blood on his hand.

Yes, most Dems supported the Patriot Act and its renewal, but it was not nearly as unanimously as the GOP, and most politicians are almost by definition lemmings that flow with popular opinion. The latter is the root of the problem.

Bush and Fox News did long term damage to the psyche of Americans. No longer did they think a risking a few lives were acceptable to preserve privacy.

RE: Damage control
By Reclaimer77 on 5/16/2013 8:36:12 PM , Rating: 3
If Obama ran a platform against the Patriot Act, you really think he'd win?

Wtf man, he got ELECTED on that platform in the first place. Just go back and read his campaign promises!! He won in a landslide based on a platform of reversing the policies of Bush! Specifically on the anti-terrorism and foreign war side.

I'm so sick of this, where do you guys come up with this crap? Sitting here discussing Bush as if it's relevant still?

Bush and Fox News did long term damage to the psyche of Americans.

Nah I think people like you and your willful ignorance are doing a good job of that.

RE: Damage control
By FITCamaro on 5/17/2013 5:30:45 AM , Rating: 3
Lol. Either some of these guys are young and are just listening to their idiot professors. Or they're incredibly stupid with very short memories.

As you said, that was EXACTLY the platform Obama ran on in 2008. And the youthful idiots fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

RE: Damage control
By Mint on 5/17/2013 8:48:46 AM , Rating: 2
He made no promise to scrap the Patriot Act. He said some vague nonsense about increasing oversight, i.e. politispeak for minimal action.
The Leahy-Paul amendment never got through Congress, so ultimately Obama's only option was to ditch the Patriot Act entirely or keep it. He never campaigned to do the former.

Yeah, he crumpled on Guantanamo, but that's ultimately unrelated to the surveillance/privacy debate.

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