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Senate Judiciary Committee hears testimony on journalist shield law

[JURIST] New York Times reporter Judith Miller [JURIST news archive] and US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg [official profile] on Wednesday offered differing takes on the need for federal legislation to protect confidentiality of journalists' sources during a Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] hearing [notice and witness list]. Miller, who was jailed for 85 days after refusing to reveal a source for a grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA agent's identity, testified [full transcript] that the committee should move forward on legislation currently pending in the Senate and House that would offer journalists protection from subpoenas by federal law enforcement officials. She claimed that the current situation had caused a chilling effect in the media, arguing that the Cleveland Plain-Dealer decided not to print two stories to avoid such a situation. Rosenberg said [full transcript] that no shield law was needed for reporters because federal subpoenas rarely dealt with confidential sources and that the current system functions effectively. Rosenberg also said that the current situation should not be viewed as an attack on the First Amendment [LII backgrounder]. Committee Chairman Arlen Specter [official website] voiced his support for a federal shield law, arguing that recent events in the case of Valerie Plame had an "obvious chilling effect" on the media. AP has more.

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