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March 12, 2006

Moderate Schmoderate

Shakes here…

One of Shakes’ contributors, Misty, points to an E&P article that takes a look at new legislation authored by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and co-sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Chuck Hagel R-Nebraska. The bill, “which could be introduced as soon as next week,” seeks to criminalize the intentional disclosure of information “identifying or describing” Bush’s surveillance program “or any other eavesdropping program conducted under” the FISA law.

Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the measure is broader than any existing laws. She said, for example, the language does not specify that the information has to be harmful to national security or classified.

"The bill would make it a crime to tell the American people that the president is breaking the law, and the bill could make it a crime for the newspapers to publish that fact," said Martin, a civil liberties advocate…

David Tomlin, the AP's assistant general counsel, said government officials with security clearances would be potential targets under DeWine's bill.

"But so would anyone else who received an illegal disclosure under the proposed act, knew what it was and deliberately disclosed it to others. That's what some reporters do, often to great public benefit," he said.

DeWine’s office insists the bill “in no way applies to reporters — in any way, shape or form,” but barring a significant revamping of the language of the bill, it’s difficult to see how that could possibly be true. (Bloggers would also clearly be a target.) If the intent is not to silence reporters, but specifically to prevent security-cleared officials from providing information about possibly illegal activities, then it’s an end-run around whistleblower protections. No matter how you slice it, this legislation stinks.

And it certainly seems to signal a sea-change in the attitude of Snowe and Hagel, who, back in December, signed a bipartisan letter registering grave concerns about the program and calling for a joint investigation. Of course, that was before the White House called them on the carpet for a little old-fashioned arm-twisting.

March 12, 2006 | Permalink

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Comments

Hagel may have had his arm twisted, but Snowe was simply bought.

The same day she signes onto the 'compromise', the House added $1 billion to the Low Income Heating Assistance Program.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina | Mar 12, 2006 2:56:27 PM

Snow's arm twisting was just the first stage of the Gitmo torture she was undoubtedly nicely threatened with. Not too direct, but not subtle either. Like a horse's head on your pillow kind of stuff.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Mar 13, 2006 4:03:38 AM

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Posted by: peterwei | Oct 22, 2007 7:07:53 AM

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