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Reporter's Shield Law passes House of Reps.

IT represents a  small victory for freedom of the press.   The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill supporting a federal shield law for reporters.  President George W. Bush has vowed to veto the bill.  If the bill passes the Senate (which is uncertain),  some analysts believe the bill will have  enough legislative support to override the veto.

Under a  reporter's shield law reporters couldn't be compelled to disclose their sources, notes or unpublished material.  The bill in question does provide some exceptions for information  needed to prevent acts of terrorism or harm to the national security.  Nevertheless, the white house opposes the bill out of concern that it would undermine governmental efforts to  investigate terror- and national-security threats.

 Advocates of the bill  cite press reports on Abu Ghraib,  secret CIA prisons and shoddy conditions at Walter Reed Army Hosptial as cases in which  sources spoke to reporters on promises of confidentiality.  It's liklely, they say that these stories couldn't have been  reported if sources feared that their identities would be disclosed to officials.

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