The increasingly trashy World Net Daily spread an e-mail announcement touting:
Revealed: 'The Obama birth certificate protection act'?
A bill approved by the House of Representatives and referred to the Senate would prohibit federal employees of executive branch from being compelled to release any document unless a court makes a specified determination by a preponderance of evidence – legislation at least one group suspects is designed to protect Barack Obama's elusive birth certificate from release.
Their e-mail notice hyped: Read the latest now on WND.com.
But oddly that link was broken. Apparently the page had been removed.
Since I don't trust anything from WND, I decided to read the bill for myself. From what I could discern it looked to me that the "crack" WND "journalists" had totally misread the bill.
Yet by Sunday evening over 7,980 blogs parroted this bogus story peddled by the World Net Daily.
Sher Zieve author, political commentator, Staff Writer and Program Director for The New Media Alliance (www.thenma.org), at least had the common decency to admit to the error of spreading the bogus story and removing the article.
I had thought that I'd affected enough research on my submitted article "Legislating More Protection for Obama and his Birth Certificate?" However, it appears that my (and others') interpretation of HR 985 may not be as accurate as first thought.
I don't often make this type of mistake and I plan to have a slice of humble pie. Thank you.
The Bill is entitled Free Flow of Information Act of 2009 and here is a summary of what the bill is about:
Free Flow of Information Act of 2009 - Prohibits a federal entity (an entity or employee of the judicial or executive branch or an administrative agency of the federal government), in any matter arising under federal law, from compelling a covered person to testify or produce any document unless a court makes specified determinations by a preponderance of the evidence, including determinations: (1) relating to exhaustion of alternative sources, (2) that the testimony or document sought is critical; (3) that disclosure of the information source's identity is necessary; and (4) that the public interest in compelling disclosure of the information or document involved outweighs the public interest in gathering or disseminating news or information. Allows a court, in making the last of those determinations, to consider the extent of any harm to national security.
Defines "covered person" as a person who regularly gathers, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes information concerning matters of public interest for dissemination to the public for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or substantial financial gain, including a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such a person. Excludes from that definition foreign powers and their agents and certain terrorist organizations and individuals.
Requires the content of compelled testimony or documents to be limited and narrowly tailored.
Prohibits construing this Act as applying to civil defamation, slander, or libel claims or defenses under state law.
Exempts certain criminal or tortious conduct.
Applies this Act to communications service providers with regard to testimony or any record, information, or other communication that relates to a business transaction between such providers and covered persons. Sets forth notice requirements. Permits a court to delay notice to a covered person upon determining that such notice would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of a criminal investigation.