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House kills intelligence bill

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    News Media Update         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Freedom of Information    

House kills intelligence bill

  • A lengthy bill to create one agency in charge of intelligence, which also would have cut off information to journalists and others, failed in the House.

Nov. 23, 2004 — The objections of some Republicans to the Intelligence Reorganization Bill that would have put most government intelligence functions under one authority killed the Senate-passed measure Saturday, mooting the collected efforts of many journalism organizations to temper or reduce proposed new secrecy requirements.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who supported the bill, refused to bring it to a vote after he was unable to convince select GOP colleagues to go along with it. The measure, which would have consolidated authority for intelligence matters in one agency, was supported by both the President and the 9/11 Commission, and had been subject to intense negotiation.

Former Washington Post reporter Scott Armstrong, who directs the Information Trust in Washington, D.C., applauded the bill’s demise. He said the last draft of the rejected measure “conceded enormous new power to the administration, preserved little oversight, was press unfriendly, had deserted many whistleblower protections and eroded the integrity of the civil service.”

In early November, 17 journalism organizations wrote Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), urging Congress not to create a “virtual official secrets act” that would authorize the new director of national intelligence to unreasonably restrict the free flow of information “within the government, between the government and the public and particularly between the government and representatives of the media.” The groups voiced concern that the government would expand requirements for non-disclosure agreements and mandate that persons within government who speak to the press make a record of those conversations.

(S. 2845) RD

© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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