Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Wednesday that he is drafting new language to prevent WikiLeaks from qualifying for protection under media shield legislation after the whistleblower website published thousands of classified documents related to the war in Afghanistan.
Schumer is a cosponsor of the Free Flow of Information Act, which is intended to provide journalists with the right to refuse to produce documents or provide testimony identifying confidential informants.
While Schumer said that two parts of the existing bill already prevent WikiLeaks from asserting the privilege created by the legislation, he said the new language would serve as a further safeguard against the possibility of WikiLeaks seeking protection from the bill.
"Neither WikiLeaks, nor its original source for these materials, should be spared in any way from the fullest prosecution possible under the law," Schumer said. "Although the bill in no way shields anyone who broke the law from prosecution, we are going the extra mile to remove even a scintilla of doubt."
Last month, WikiLeaks published more than 75,000 classified documents chronicling years of developments in the Afghanistan war, including thousands of unreported civilian deaths and other problems that the U.S. military has faced.
A USA Today/Gallup poll released earlier this week suggested that the publication of the documents has had a negative impact on public support for the war, with the poll showing that a record number of Americans now think it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
The poll showed that 43 percent of Americans now say that the U.S. made a mistake in sending troops to Afghanistan compared to 52 percent that say it was not a mistake.
A poll conducted just prior to the publication of the documents showed that 38 percent of Americans said it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan compared to 58 percent who said it was not a mistake.
However, Americans' views of U.S. progress in Afghanistan have been decidedly negative since late last summer. The most recent poll showed that 62 percent say that things are going very or moderately badly for the U.S. military compared to 34 percent that say thing are going very or moderately well.
by RTT Staff Writer
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