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

Partial transcript of remarks by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on the Free Flow of Information Act. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was held on Sept. 12, 2013:

More than 70 news organizations have expressed strong support for this legislation…

It’s not a partisan issue. Whether you’re Republican, Democrat or Independent, you have an interest in enacting a balanced and meaningful media shield bill. One of the things that protects democracy is a free flow of information to people of that democracy…

The First Amendment was probably the most important part of the Constitution and protected the freedom to practice any religion you want or none if you wanted. It also gave – it protected free speech. My parents owned a printing business and earlier published a small weekly newspaper and this was a touchstone to them. It is to me.

The bill carefully balances the need to protect confidential source information and the need to protect law enforcement and national security interests but do it in a way that we protect the American people’s right to know, which should be pre-eminent…

…We know there have been instances of classifying things improperly for the sole purpose of covering up government misconduct or corruption. “Wow, we’ve got a real screw up here. Classify it. Classify that. And if anybody speaks about it, we can nail them.”

We worry about some of the things that’ve been leaked out and reported when there have been real screw ups in our own government. Certainly the extraordinary mishandling by the NSA that involve the Snowden leaks. But it wouldn’t allow us to say, “Okay you can’t ask us who screwed up at the NSA” or the Manning leaks, “You can’t ask who screwed by putting all this information on a computer where a private can get access to and can download on a Lady Gaga CD.” Or we can’t ask who it was that made that horrendous mistake because this was classified.

And if information is critical to expose government wrongdoing or even corruption, they’re protected and they classify it. The treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, fraud and abuse in the defense industry, expose of workers at Kentucky uranium plant of excessive amounts of plutonium and uranium – we found out about that when the cover-up had been classified…

###

Learn More:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.