Bush cabinet pushes back on shield


It is well known that the Bush administration has an antipathy toward information leakers, and is firmly against enactment of a federal shield for reporter sources. Nevertheless, the House has passed such a bill by a wide margin, and some members are urging the Senate to follow suit. Bush administation officials are arguing against the measure.

According to the Washington Post, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, Director of Intelligence Mike McConnell, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman, and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff have all written letters to members of Congress citing various reasons to reject the reporter’s shield.

Mukasey and McConnell argued that each leak investigation would end up being a "mini-trial over the propriety of the government’s classification system." If the government wants to know the source of a story, it must get a judge to agree by "a preponderance of evidence."

RBR/TVBR observation: The Senate may or may not get around to seconding the House on the measure this year — you just never know when a third of the senators are up for re-election. In the face of an almost certain veto from President Bush, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may well decide to simply hold off for a year, when presidential opposition should not exist, since all three of the remaining presidential candidates have endorsed the shield.