euthanizing the press

Mike DeWine (R-OH, of course) has written a bill that would criminalize reporters (or others) from publishing information on criminal government activity. The White House is all a-twitter and salivating over this new legislation, I’m sure.

E&P reports:

The draft would add to the criminal penalties for anyone who “intentionally discloses information identifying or describing” the Bush administration’s terrorist surveillance program or any other eavesdropping program conducted under a 1978 surveillance law.

Under the boosted penalties, those found guilty could face fines of up to $1 million, 15 years in jail or both.

The information published could be non-harmful, non-classified but it’d still be illegal to even say it exists. So, basically:

“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 [Kate] Martin, a civil liberties advocate.

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, agrees:

...the language would allow anyone — “if you read a story in the paper and pass it along to your brother-in-law” — to be prosecuted.

“As a practical matter, would they use this to try to punish any newspaper or any broadcast? It essentially makes coverage of any of these surveillance programs illegal.”

DeWine’s office claims that “it in no way applies to reporters — in any way, shape or form”. WTF? Who, then? Bloggers? Oh, puh-lease. There are some other senators that have decided to co-sponsor this legislation: Olympia Snowe, Lindsey Graham and Chuck Hagel. Making it a crime to expose the criminals.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It was, like, getting so old anyway.

(good morning cross-post, how are ya?)

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