WASHINGTON: Government spokespeople and journalists were relieved
last November when President Clinton vetoed a bill that would have made
it a federal crime to leak "properly classified" information. But now it
is making a comeback.
When the provision was tacked onto a November intelligence authorization
bill, Defense Department spokesman Ken Bacon led a vocal campaign
against it. His concern was that government communicators would be in
danger of unintentionally committing a federal crime, as information is
too easily classified "top-secret," and spokespeople often are
Media groups were concerned that potential whistleblowers would be
deterred from exposing government corruption to reporters for fear of
Journalists also feared being subpoenaed as part of government attempts
to ferret out leaks.
CNN, The Washington Post, the National Newspaper Association, and The
New York Times are now asking the Senate to delay a proposed hearing on
the provision this week, again tucked into an intelligence authorization
bill, while they devise a common proposal to protect classified
Bacon's replacement, Torie Clarke, told PRWeek she was undecided whether
she would take a position.