Oct 4, 2007

My Point Of View...

Shield Law Perils . . .
Bill Would Wreak Havoc on a System That Isn't Broken

By Patrick J. Fitzgerald

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a "shield law" for journalists that would radically alter the way national security investigations are conducted. Unlike state shield laws, a federal shield law poses unique obstacles to the protection of national security. We must know whether the proposed law squarely addresses a real problem before taking such a significant step.

Let's start from the common premise that a robust and free press and fair and effective law enforcement are both vital to our democracy. Since the Supreme Court ruled 35 years ago that reporters are obligated to comply with grand jury subpoenas, there has been no shortage of whistle-blowers -- from Watergate to Abu Ghraib. And the Justice Department operates under rigorous regulations restricting the issuance of subpoenas to journalists. These regulations, which require balancing the competing public interests in law enforcement and the flow of information to the media, have yielded only a trickle of subpoenas.

Against this background, a compelling case has not been made for jettisoning the legal framework that has guided this process for the past 35 years.

A threshold question lawmakers should ask is whether reporters will obey the law if it is enacted. They should ask because the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press calls for a shield law while urging journalists to defy the law when a court upholds a subpoena for source information. Any shield bill should require that a person seeking its protection first provide the subpoenaed information under seal to the court, to be released only if the court orders the information disclosed.

The proposed shield law poses real hazards to national security and law enforcement. The bipartisan Sept. 11 commission and the Robb-Silberman commission on prewar intelligence both found our national security at great risk because of the widespread leaking of classified information. The proposed law would have the unintended but profound effect of handcuffing investigations of such leaks. In many cases, authorities would face the Catch-22 of being required to prove specific criminal activity -- in a hearing before a judge, often resulting in notice to the subjects of investigation or their associates -- before they could take the investigative steps to determine whether criminal activity had occurred. In effect, the law would require "trial before investigation." Even worse, in cases involving leaks of classified information, the law would require the government to disclose in a hearing the specific damage caused by the leak -- information often more sensitive than the leak itself.

On a practical level, the bill would cause delays -- measured in years -- in national security investigations because prosecutors would be litigating (and appealing) instead of investigating serious crimes. As but one example, if classified nuclear secrets were published in a newspaper citing official sources at the Pentagon, the FBI would need to litigate with the newspaper before being allowed to use subpoenas to follow the trail of the Pentagon's own telephone or e-mail records. And the FBI might well lose because the bill, puzzlingly, requires that agents prove that the leak occurred without relying on the newspaper article.

The bill would have other serious consequences. "Journalism" is so broadly defined that it includes not just newspapers and bloggers but also criminal organizations that disseminate information widely. In recent cases in Chicago, this bill would have qualified as journalists:
  • "Charity" groups that raised money through Internet postings, purportedly for widows and orphans, but that actually diverted the funds to groups affiliated with al-Qaeda.
  • An Iraqi spy who had a cover job as a journalist.
  • A violent street gang that pirated a religious radio station to broadcast messages to gang members.
  • Child pornographers who shared information over the Internet.
The shield bill appears to address the first two cases but does not. The bill does not protect people if the government proves they are acting on behalf of a foreign terrorist group or foreign power. But the bill also handcuffs investigators from taking the steps necessary to obtain that proof. The bill does not even purport to exclude domestic terrorists, gangs or pedophiles. No senator or legitimate journalist wants to extend protection to terrorists or other criminals, but such is the vice of a law defining journalism.

Any shield bill raises important questions for our democracy and warrants close scrutiny. Certainly those who advocate a shield law do not wish to compromise national security or public safety. Similarly, those who oppose such a law intend neither to cripple the free press nor to suffocate dissent. Before acting in this sensitive area, Congress should take care that any legislation addresses demonstrated needs and does not create dangerous unintended consequences for national security and law enforcement. Congress -- and the public -- ought to be assured that the people who propose the shield law will themselves obey it. The proposed bill fails all these tests.

The writer is the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Senate Panel Approves Press Shield Bill

48 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope you had fun at Regis.

7:06 PM  
Blogger calamityjane said...

Good article. Thank you so much, Mr.Fitzgerald. Peace and love to all. :)

9:59 PM  
Blogger PrissyPatriot said...

It is a very good article, but I think he always weighs on the side of law enforcement...like, uh hmm The Patriot Act, Mr Fitzgerald.

One WaPo commenter said
I would disagree with one point, that the leaking of classified information puts our national security at risk. What it has been putting at risk is the brazen attack on our constitution and our civil rights by the imperial president, the ultra-secretive vice-president, and all the illegality and immorality they and their associates and supporters are trying to keep from us. Those who expose their violations of the law are to be thanked, as are the journalists who convey those truths to us.

Whistleblowers need more protection. Hi CJ:D

10:11 PM  
Anonymous fear not said...

But he's so good, so good he's bad

11:10 PM  
Anonymous unintended or nefariously intentional said...

Hi,

Thanks for the analysis of this law and its untoward effects.

If I had the power to:

I would examine the process that crafted this porous law. This law should have been crafted to be selectively porous. Porous and useful to the squeaky-clean. Non-porous and useless to the criminals.

The legislators [who vote this law, up or down] are seldom the ones writing the law. The legslator's staff members with help from committees and the CRS, Congressional Research Service actually write the law.

If there is a potential for mischief in this law, demand the law be re-written. Seal those holes that let the criminals pass.

You know how I feel about you
and the faux-you :)

Celeste Aida

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I have not studied the law. I simply opine as a kibitzer.

1:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think Progress » Karl Rove’s Deputy J. Scott Jennings Resigns

____________________________________

Well said, Prissy.

It would seem that sometimes national secrets have nothing to do with security but protecting political and elite crooks and deviants. Shame on anyone that helps with this destructive abuse to our country and our children's future.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Local News | Charges for Blackwater ex-guard? Lawyer doubts it | Seattle Times Newspaper

I wonder if Blackwater set up their own people so the Marines would be convinced to change their plans and attack Fallujah. Hang 'em high, he said. Bring it on, he said, Probably while listening to Elvis tunes.

9:56 AM  
Blogger PrissyPatriot said...

So J Scottie leaves on the tail of Rover, for KY? Actually, it will be easier to interview him in the vote fraud stuff...there's some folks down there who are very concerned. I'm sure they will want to visit him, once he gets settled.

Elvis tunes LOL

So you have seen him too? lol

Blogmaster you are impossible;)

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh. I see what Mr. Fitzgerald means now. I didn't catch who wrote the rebuttal article till now.

Some art to enjoy. I joke but all was not told about that relationship either.

New Days of The Week kids - SKG Artworks, Inc.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michigan Liberal: Michigan Politics Blog:: How 'bout them apples, Dick?

A Birthday Letter from Billionairess Betsy Prince Devos « The Disembodied Head of Dick Devos

MONEY DOESN'T TALK, IT SWEARS...: January 2005

Irregular Times: News Unfit for Print » Insider Politics Turns Deadly When Blackwater Writes the Government’s Report

Bob J. Perry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush: 'This government does not torture' - CNN.com

Double speaker. There he goes again, trying to muck up reality and rewrite history. Enough.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former U.S. economist pleads guilty in $90M investor fraud case; had claimed amnesia

Who is this crook? This is not that Dr. Evil, is it? (no laughing)

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Al Parish said...

but you can call me Dr. Evil

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Questionable Contracts (10/04/07)

"Investigators are exploring whether Jackson, despite that testimony, had actually lined up a contract at the HUD-controlled Housing Authority of New Orleans, or HANO, for a golfing buddy and social friend from Hilton Head Island, S.C. The friend, William Hairston, was paid more than $485,000 for working at HANO during an 18-month period, according to figures provided by HUD and a former HANO official. The work was not competitively bid."

Thank you.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Deeper Look At Blackwater, Bob Orr Examines The Workings Of The Controversial Security Company - CBS News

"Prince's critics paint him as a profiteering mercenary, who's landed lucrative no-bid contracts from political cronies inside the Bush Administration.

He was a White House intern during the Presidency of the first George Bush, and since he founded Blackwater a decade ago, he's donated $222,000 to political causes - all but $5,000 to Republicans.

“Blackwater is not a partisan company; we haven't done any, you know, we execute the mission given us,” Prince said."

The scandal of Blackwater | Iraq | Guardian Unlimited

10:37 PM  
Blogger PrissyPatriot said...

Sanity (and the law?) Prevail in One American Courtroom

NYT-In a statement issued Friday night by Fort Lewis, the Army said: ''Every soldier is entitled to due process in answering charges made against him, and this case is no different. 1st Lt. Watada has always been, and will continue to be, treated fairly and according to law and military justice procedures.''

Jim Lobsenz, one of Watada's lawyers, said Watada that had been informed of the stay and ''he's very happy -- and I'm very happy too.''

Watada contends the war is illegal and that he would be party to war crimes if he served in Iraq. The Army refused his request to be posted in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that Watada can be court-martialed again, but Watada appealed that decision to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Armed Forces, which has not ruled, his attorneys wrote.

Watada lives in Olympia and continues to perform administrative duties at Fort Lewis, south of Seattle. His term of service ended in December, but the pending legal proceedings have prevented his discharge.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aaaaa.JPEG (image)

Growth in Federal Contracts.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scandal Brewing at Oral Roberts U. | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited

"Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors' expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter's senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.

She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as ``underage males.'' "

Reminds me about the President of the school board here that killed himself yesterday when the FBI went to check his computer--the corporate republican owned news station didn't go into details.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous you remind me of chagall said...

To Anon. 10:38,

I enjoyed your internet gallery:) It's a bright and happy show:)

I like:

'I use to think I had to have it,
Now I wonder what it was'

It's a poetic title for the picture.

Celeste Aida

"Only love interests me, and I am only in contact with things I love." ~ Marc Chagall

8:09 AM  
Anonymous he gets my jury vote for being mentally ill said...

To 7:26 PM,

Is that what Al Parish looks like?

Obesity is at the very least an addiction.

It may be associated with other mental illnesses and medical disorders.

The current DSM-IV [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] has left out obesity as a psychciatric diagnosis, but word on the street is that the up-coming DSM-V may include obesity as a mental illness again.

Sheesh, he showed up in Court dressed like that with a plastic bag as a briefcase?

Celeste Aida

I have been [past-tense] Board Certified in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing by the American Nurse's Association.

? How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Only one, but the lightbulb truly has to want to change.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous questions, as many as the stars in the sky said...

Hey Prissy,

Re: Watada and 'illegal' war.

What about Congress voting to fund the Iraq War: Can MOC's [Members of Congress] be sued or charged criminally for funding an illegal war?

Would this be a matter for the World Court? Could Watada take his case to the World Court?

Celeste Aida

8:36 AM  
Blogger PrissyPatriot said...

Good questions, CA...I'll have to check into that. If the military knows what the law is, they will leave Lt Watada alone...if they don't, go ahead-give him his day in court. Maybe they must be publicly flogged with the laws of the land.

If the war gets to a courtroom, it will be found illegal. There is no doubt, so simple a 6 year old could judge the case!

Thanks CA, for turning on my lightbulb today;D

Busy weekend, lovely weather. Yours truly will be out and about gathering up support for our troops. I can't wait to share with all of you what I have been working on. Its the first legislation of its kind to appear- it will spread across the country in no time;) And its got bunches of bi-partisan support. so much, republicans and dems wish THEY had thought of it-but they didn't.

You know me JB's, I support the troops and slap Massah Boosh in the face all at the same time...

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BELLACIAO - George W. Bush, The Neocons, & The Nazis - Glen Yeadon

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the White House help keep this from the people?

Asbestos Manufacturers

Libby's Deadly Grace

Course the elite wouldn't have such cancer causing poisons in their houses, now would they?

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democracy Now! | The Shock Doctrine: Naomi Klein on the Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Treasure of Baghdad: Education of Murder

The Shock Doctrine Short Film | Naomi Klein

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

????? I doubt he wrote or said this but since I'm not a ' journalist ; I'll keep on talking......

By Patrick J. Fitzgerald

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a "shield law" for journalists that would radically alter the way national security investigations are conducted. Unlike state shield laws, a federal shield law poses unique obstacles to the protection of national security. We must know whether the proposed law squarely addresses a real problem before taking such a significant step.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry Caray - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harry Caray, Do you know how many former or past baseball players (or game related) people have other things connected to them? Geesh.

Amazon.com: Jeremy Blake: Winchester: Books: Mitchell Schwarzer,Benjamin Weil,Jeremy Blake

Who the heck is Nathan? *Someone is playing games alright. High-horsed and a bag of chips.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank for the comment from progress.

Comment by wifus — October 6, 2007 @ 12:41 am

Wifus, you and I are about the same age and I'm making one last effort. After all these years , I changed my party to Republican and am supporting Dr. Ron Paul for president. I agree with most everything he says.

Some of these Rove , media, mafia or others or their assignees have done everything they can to
' protect ' me ......... A better word might be antagonize.

I'm considering sending a letter to every member of congress and other officials and ask them to WAKE UP.

People keep asking me for the
"EVIDENCE". It's in the public record. I do not mean the the newspaper.

Isn't law school 4 years college and 3 years more law school ?

Read or go to jail !

And if they really don't like you ; I'd recommend a radiation blanket.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, i know about the ' sports' network..........

Atlanta.......

9:19 PM  
Anonymous hagdalena said...

State Dept. steps up watch on Blackwater -- chicagotribune.com


9:14pm...how old are you?

hagdalena

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The producers and editors decide what news will be printed or seen; throw their asses in jail, Fitz.

Did you watch "Law and Order"?

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.nebraskaccess.org/libdev/summerreading/2007gac_booklist.pdf

Required reading programs or pizza hut points coupon program books seem darker each year.

Ask parents if they think the books their kids have to read with tests aren't designed to influence or pollute young minds. The same tactics "weekly reader" uses around election time or using kids as a pawn to convince the parents to accept corporations or politicians want done.

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Media Matters - CNN, ABC offered unchallenged legal analysis on Plame leak from Novak's partisan friends

http

7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cheney alert! Lynn gives interview and house tour on CBS Sunday Morning Show. Turn your tube on.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous just plain old-fashioned coffee said...

The Raw Story | Blackwater crushed car with three kids, old man to avoid traffic: former US official

Truthdig - Reports - Chris Hedges: America’s Holy Warriors

Never mind the little things like when U.S. troops were working with Iraqis on rebuilding their nation and Blackwater employees would make disrespectful remarks about the Iraqis' wives. Winning the peace or creating chaos? WWJD?

Bob Shieffer trying to say Blackwater was cheaper than the military. Ha! Soldiers say contractors took their jobs! Where is all the missing money? Why aren't the fat cat CEOs of these companies sitting in the privatized prison complexes with a sentence worthy of their crimes. Isn't justice suppose to blind?

Blackwater USA’s Erik Prince & Dick Devos: Brother-in-laws in Arms « The Disembodied Head of Dick Devos

People still falling for that soap scam? It reminds me of years ago when I was a waitress and this new college started up in town with a new *way of thinking (or not). Anyway, one by one they would cram into a booth where I worked, sitting for HOURS, only ordering coffee..emptying the creamers, sugar (a little coffee with your sugar and cream?). They would apologize and said they were hungry, that's why they used so much sugar and cream.
Hmm...maybe they thought of an idea?

Soap scam came around again recently by stupid Republican cousin, my sis said "no thanks to Pyramid schemes." The new *way of thinking college in town went out of business years ago, as did the restaurant, foolish young waitress that was me in the late 70s, very sorry for working at "Sambo's".

Mich. coffee chain gets new name - Boston.com

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloomberg.com: U.S.

Sam’s Club recalls Cargill-made hamburgers in U.S. « purely partisan politiks

Lawyer: USDA waited 18 days before seeking hamburger recall

Who are the CEOs bringing the millions in salaries from these companies? Helluva way to run a business.
Stuck in Dealey Plaza.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous get a new blog said...

boring. work on it. it could be better.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous never eat rare meat,high temps kill e-coli said...

To 6:15 PM,

Boring is good. I've had enough of an 'interesting' life.

That being said: Here's some ICK for you.

NPR contributor's funky blog Re: 'Toto, we're not at WHOLEFOODS anymore'

Celeste Aida

6:34 PM  
Anonymous where's an editor when you need one? said...

CORRECTED LINK

NPR contributor's blog: 'Toto, I don't think we're at WHOLEFOODS anymore'

ca

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faux Fitz doesn't write the comments.
Now, Mr. Fitzgerald should join InterPol?? is that spelled right? It is on "60 Minutes" right now. HLS doesn't want it, hmmm--GOT SOMETHING TO HIDE??

Interpol Boss Says Agency Is Underutilized, Ron Noble Tells Steve Kroft Agency Is Also Under-Funded - CBS News

Stand up citizens! That poor guy has tears in his eyes because he cannot get funding to stop terror and child molesters.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"1997: Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee investigating fundraising abuses, accused the White House of "a clear pattern of delay, foot-dragging, concealing."

Thompson should encourage the White House in 2007 to quit "a clear pattern of delay, foot-dragging, concealing."

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Platinum Betsy ? I don't know who she is ...........

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... "
Faux Fitz doesn't write the comments.
Now, Mr. Fitzgerald should join InterPol?? is that spelled right? It is on "60 Minutes" right now. HLS doesn't want it, hmmm--GOT SOMETHING TO HIDE??

Interpol Boss Says Agency Is Underutilized, Ron Noble Tells Steve Kroft Agency Is Also Under-Funded - CBS News

Stand up citizens! That poor guy has tears in his eyes because he cannot get funding to stop terror and child molesters."

I SAY :

Tears et al. Mr. Noble is certainly a handsome gentleman. Maybe I'll by him a tie too !

Homeland security employees over 200,000 and Interpol employees one US secret service agent.

NOble is a smart man. I wouldn't want the majority of them either.

Only the lonely

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:14pm...how old are you?

hagdalena

10:16 PM

REPLY

Moi ? 51.

And about this USDA , FDA , other regulatory bodies .

Check out AAFCA. Something like that. See it on a can of Pet food.
And say your prayers the USDA etc... is still in business. Nestle (subsidiares ... Purina , Friskies , and their other brands appear to be lobbying them out of our governmnet structure).

If you do not farm raise meat yourself ; cook your food thoroughly.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever decide what Pat middle J stands for ????? James , JOseph , Jealous ?

And who is the guy hiding in the back of the CNN Internet video ?

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

J. Scott Jennings ?

Never heard of him.

Isn't public relations just another word for dirty tricks ?

Probalby stalking us as we speak.

11:34 PM  
Anonymous many lives, many masters said...

To 11:34 PM

You said: "Isn't public relations just another word for dirty tricks ?"

Ahem...we do not refer to our sides 'smoke & mirrors' as dirty tricks. The 'other side' engages in dirty tricks.

We engage in Public Relations. PR is the sanitization/Americanization of 'propaganda'. Propaganda being defined as 'lies, evasions, and distortions, purporting to be the truth.'

WE engage in PUBLIC RELATIONS and spin.

THEY engage in PROPAGANDA and dirty tricks.

Celeste Aida

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PR ?

10:02 PM  

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