Senate panel reviews espionage laws: uh-oh for the media?

Here’s a quick advisory for anyone interested in government-media tensions:  A  Senate panel will take a look at the Espionage Act this morning.  This hearing should be closely watched by media groups for any signs that the simmering tensions between the press over leaks will once again boil into direct conflict.

In 2006, the government grew increasingly hostile to press reporting based on unauthorized disclosures.  This year has not seen the kinds of revelations similar to the government’s warrantless wiretapping, monitoring international banking transactions, and secret prisons in Eastern Europe, each of which drew criticism from Congress and the executive branch when published.

Hopefully this will not be another round of misguided efforts to rewrite the Espionage Act to prevent the media from reporting important stories.  It should be remembered that journalists already balance getting the story with avoiding reporting specifics that might divulge sources or covert operations.  Recall the New York Times held their warrantless wiretapping story for a year before publishing the story over the objections of the White House.

More as this issue unfolds.

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