Transcript: Sen. Chuck Grassley’s remarks on the Free Flow of Information Act – Sept. 12, 2013

Partial transcript of remarks by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on the Free Flow of Information Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was held on Sept. 12, 2013: …It’s been several years since the committee considered legislation protecting reporters from having to identify their confidential sources.

I strongly believe in the First Amendment right of reporters. The press plays a vital role in holding our government to account. Reporters help disclose waste, fraud, and abuse and ensure that we have an informed citizenry.

In 2009, I supported a similar legislation. I also note that the Department of Justice has recently updated its internal guidelines regarding how and when we seek to force a reporter to disclose confidential sources.

Given the Department’s highly-publicized recent behavior monitoring a reporter’s activities, this is a needed step in the right direction.

However, while protect the rights of reporters, we must also ensure that we do not unduly burden legitimate law enforcement efforts to combat violent crime, terrorism, and espionage cases.

In 2009, I supported amendments that were offered to address national security concerns and amendments addressing the scope of the bill. Since that time, there have been several high-profile leaks involving national security and intelligence-gathering matters.

So it’s very important that we have a thorough debate on this issue in regard to what we know recently happened.

In the era of WikiLeaks and the Snowden leaks, we should consider how this bill, if it were to become law, would affect those cases. A large number of amendments have been circulated to this bill.

Many of the amendments try to address some of these legitimate law enforcement national security concerns. These amendments should be debated and I look forward to hearing from my colleagues on these important issues. It’s my understanding that this legislation will not shield me when I use Twitter. [Laughter]

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