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May 27, 2013

Schumer: Group of senators to look into media leaks

WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday a group of eight senators will look at setting rules on how leaks about government secrets are investigated.

“We’ll be announcing that we have four Democrats and four Republicans ... another Gang of Eight,” Schumer said Sunday on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

Schumer said in mid-May that he and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will reintroduce the so-called media shield bill pursued unsuccessfully four years ago.

The New York Democrat said Sunday that before the government asks a news organization to divulge sources it first must go to a judge. He says that judge would “impose a balancing test” to determine which is more important, the government’s desire to find the information or the robust freedom of the press.

Back in 2009, after the House passed a media shield bill, the action shifted to the Senate, leading to a compromise bill that would protect reporters’ sources, but grant the government authority to override that in certain national security cases. The measure was never voted on by the full Senate.

In recent weeks, the administration has acknowledged secretly seizing portions of two months of phone records from The Associated Press. The AP received no advance warning. The seizure was part of an investigation into who leaked information to AP reporters for a May 7, 2012, story that disclosed details of a foiled plot in Yemen to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner, around the anniversary of the May 2, 2011, killing of Osama bin Laden.

The government also read the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen in a separate investigation about the publication of government secrets. Rosen’s emails were seized, with a judge’s approval, as part of the prosecution of Stephen Kim, a State Department adviser who is accused of leaking secret information about North Korea.

Under intense pressure this week, President Barack Obama said the Justice Department would review the policy under which it obtains journalists’ records in investigating leaks of government secrets.

The president said the government has to strike the right balance between security and an open society. He said Holder will meet with representatives of media organizations and report back to him by July 12.

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