Bush’s veto could restrict reporters

Zabie Mansoory

On Tuesday the House passed the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 also know as reporters’ shield act, which backs the right of reporters to protect the confidentiality of sources in most federal court cases, saying that the right was crucial to a free and effective press.

The bill, which was passed by a vote of 398 to 21, could still require reporters to disclose their sources if the information needed would prevent an act of terrorism or endanger our national security. The problem is that it’s the government who decides what endangers “national security,” so something like prison abuse in Iraq, CIA prisons, or mistreatment of war veterans could be considered “dangerous to national security” and reporters would be forced to disclose their sources.

But that’s still not enough for President Bush. The White House threatened to veto the bill saying it could encourage leaks of classified information to reporters.

President Bush, please don’t veto this bill. There is already a lack of good investigative reporting today. The founding fathers gave members of the press the freedom to say anything they want to for a reason. Someone needs to oversee what happens in this country.

Despite what critics claim, the proposed “shield law” isn’t a concession to special pleading by the news media, and the ultimate beneficiary is the public. Without confidential sources, we can’t convince officials in the administration to speak their minds, nor will journalists feel free to report what confidential sources say.

The bill reads, “Conditions for Compelled Disclosure- In any proceeding or in connection with any issue arising under Federal law, a Federal entity may not compel a covered person to provide testimony or produce any document related to information possessed by such covered person as part of engaging in journalism, unless a court determines by a preponderance of the evidence, after providing notice and an opportunity to be heard to such covered person.”

As journalists, we still promise our sources confidentiality even without a federal shield law, but we don’t want to spend time jail for not disclosing sources. It is our duty to keep sources confidential. We also understand that national security is important, but we think a free press is one of the main pillars of our democracy.

It is the duty of every citizen to write to Bush and encourage him to sign this important bill into law and allow us journalists the freedom to do our job.

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