Tag Archives: legal

Demystifying reporter’s privilege and shield laws

By SB Anderson

For decades, authorities have relied on various state and federal laws to investigate reporters and their sources, to issue them subpoenas and to use the threat of prosecution and incarceration to get them to cooperate.

In response, journalists and their lawyers have fought back by claiming “reporter’s privilege,” with varying degrees of success.

These issues have come to a head over the past decade as the Bush and Obama administrations have used unprecedented aggressiveness in going after reporters and their sources.

The newest How-To briefing from the Medill National Security Initiative’s Josh Meyer also provides journalists with information about what to steps to take to protect themselves from being subpoenaed, and what to do if they are subpoenaed, or come under investigation and possible prosecution.

Read the full briefing.

VA wrongful death payments hit $200 million in decade after 9/11

By SB Anderson

The Veteran’s Administration has paid out some $200 million in wrongful death penalties since 9/11, The Center for Public Integrity reported today. Records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request showed about 1,000 payments over 10 years.

Deaths ranged from “decorated Iraq War veterans who shot or hanged themselves after being turned away from mental health treatment, to Vietnam veterans whose cancerous tumors were identified but allowed to grow, to missed diagnoses, botched surgeries and fatal neglect of elderly veterans,” CIR’s story said.

Below is a CIR’s interactive map that shows payouts and case details by local VA facility. Zoom out a bit to see Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Quote this

By SB Anderson

Margaret Sullivan“Those who care about the crucial role of the free press in our democracy should say a prayer, or raise a glass, or do whatever they can to wish Mr. Risen well.”

NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan re: Times national security reporter James Risen’s U.S. Supreme Court filing yesterday to protect a confidential source. (Read the filing).

Will TSA look the other way on pot carry-ons?

By SB Anderson

Luggage at AirportWorth a check perhaps in your local market: What, if anything, does the Transportation Security Administration do when it finds marijuana in carry-ons at an airport that is located in a jurisdiction in which possession is legal?

Lawyers.com in a post described it as a “try-it-at-your-own-risk scenario,” but says “TSA policy and anecdotal reports suggest that passengers who travel between states in which they can legally use pot are likely to be allowed to fly.”

TSA’s “official policy” on drugs is to let local authorities know. “So if the passenger has authorization to use medical marijuana, or if he or she is flying between Washington and Colorado, where possession of the drug even for recreational purposes has been legalized, local law enforcement isn’t going to intervene,” Lawyers.com said.

Full Post

“There’s not a national security reporter that I can find who supports the shield law because it won’t protect us. We’re going to get exempted out of it one way or another.”

— Investigative journalist Scott Armstrong at a Newseum panel discussion. (Full story)

Military extends benefits to married same-sex partners; should be implemented by Sept. 3

By SB Anderson

To get in sync with the recent U.S. Supreme Court smack-down of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, the Department of Defense on Wednesday set Sept. 3 as the deadline for providing health and other benefits to uniformed and civilian same-sex partners who are married.

“. . . [T]he Department will work to make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. The Department will continue to recognize all marriages that are valid in the place of celebration,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote in a memo.

The Pentagon will extend leave of up to 10 days to those who want to marry but need to travel to a different state where same-sex unions are legal and recognized. “This will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the Department and help level the playing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples seeking to be married,” Hagel’s memo said.

Earlier, the Pentagon had pledged to extended benefits to same-sex couples in a “committed relationship.” That will now narrow to married couples only.

“As the Supreme Court’s ruling has made it possible for same-sex couples to marry and be afforded benefits available to any military spouse and family, I have determined, consistent with the unanimous advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the extension of benefits to the san1e-sex domestic partners of military members is no longer necessary to remedy the inequity that was caused by section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act,” Hagel wrote.

The spousal and family benefits, including TRICARE health plan, housing allowance and family separation allowance, will be retroactive to the June 26th date of the Supreme Court decision.