Last updated: October 1, 2009 - 8:32am
The Obama administration has told lawmakers that it opposes legislation that could protect reporters from being imprisoned if they refuse to disclose confidential sources who leak material about national security, according to several people involved with the negotiations. The administration this week sent to Congress sweeping revisions to a "media shield" bill that would significantly weaken its protections against forcing reporters to testify. The bill includes safeguards that would require prosecutors to exhaust other methods for finding the source of the information before subpoenaing a reporter, and would balance investigators' interests with "the public interest in gathering news and maintaining the free flow of information." But under the administration's proposal, such procedures would not apply to leaks of a matter deemed to cause "significant" harm to national security. Moreover, judges would be instructed to be deferential to executive branch assertions about whether a leak caused or was likely to cause such harm.
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