Shield Laws Revisited

SHIELD LAWS REVISITED….Those of us who support a federal shield law for reporters have been having a rough time of it lately. Having Judy Miller as our primary poster child hasn’t helped our cause much.

But things have been looking up lately. Last month Dana Priest revealed the existence of CIA “black sites” in Eastern Europe and last week James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed the existence of a secret NSA spying program. Both of these stories were leaked by multiple sources, and it’s almost certain that those sources broke the law by doing so.

Now, I happen to think that it was a good thing these stories were broken, but I suspect the Bush administration disagrees with me about that. And needless to say, they can do something about this difference of opinion. If they felt like it ? and they might, this being wartime and all ? they could appoint a prosecutor to investigate these cases, and the prosecutor could then subpoena Priest, Risen, and Lichtblau and demand to know who they talked to under threat of jail time.

A qualified shield law would make it clear that this couldn’t happen and would encourage more whistleblowing of this nature. That sounds like a great idea to me. Anyone else disagree?