Despite intensified lobbying from advocates of press freedom and some prominent legislators, the United States has yet to enact a federal shield law. Reporters still face the possibility in federal cases of having to go to jail for refusing to identify their confidential news sources. While there are 31 states in the United States with shield law protections and four with some limited protections for journalists, 17 states have no form of shield law. Several carry over bills are pending before the new Congress to enact a federal shield law offering qualified privileges to reporters. Similar bills have been sitting in Congress for several years with no votes being taken. Enactment of a strong shield law is one of the top priorities of the Newspaper Association of America and the American Society of Newspaper Editors, but the prospects for that happening are in doubt. In a recent case, reporters' forced testimony played a major role in the trial of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff. The cooperation by reporters with the prosecutor-- even after their sources gave them permission to testify -- raised troubling questions about reporters' future dealings with confidential sources and aggressive federal prosecutors' threatening reporters with jail if they do not cooperate. A former New York Times reporter spent 85 days in jail for doing her job and refusing to divulge her source. The reporter ultimately testified after receiving assurances that her source had granted her permission. In light of the ongoing publicity about this case, it remains an open question whether future confidential sources will be willing to tell reporters about questionable activities occurring in the federal government, which the public has a right to know. In January, United States Representative John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, gave an address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington, DC, in which he spoke about his support for enactment of a federal shield law. His remarks came shortly before a federal judge canceled a contempt of court ruling against San Francisco Chronicle staff writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams for refusing to name their sources in a baseball steroids investigation. The reporters had been found in contempt of court in 2005 and faced up to 18 months in prison for refusing to testify before a grand jury. The Chronicle case had raised concerns about recent federal government attempts that erode the First Amendment by using its powers to seize reporters’ phone records and to threaten jail time to those who refuse to identify sources. A number of other recent cases also revived calls for a federal shield law. In one, American blogger and videographer Joshua Wolf was jailed on contempt of court charges stemming from his refusal to turn over to a grand jury investigation video footage of a July 8, 2005 clash between police officers and protestors in San Francisco in which a police car was damaged. Wolf was jailed on August 1 last year, released a month later but shortly afterwards returned to prison after losing his appeal, and has now been behind bars for defying a subpoena relating to his work longer than any other journalist in the history of the United States. In another development, The Associated Press reported that 11 inmates at the Guantánamo U.S. Naval Base were on hunger strike as of February 22 – among them an Al-Jazeera cameraman detained there, without charge, for nearly five years, who went on hunger strike in January, which raises fears for his health. This was reported on Al-Jazeera’s Arabic-language Web site. The man, Sami-al-Haj, 38, was detained in December 2001 by Pakistani forces on the Afghan-Pakistani border while covering the U.S.-led offensive against the Taliban. He was transferred by the U.S. military to Guantánamo in June 2002. He has been accused by the U.S. military of working as a financial courier for armed groups and assisting al-Queda and extremist figures, charges which he denies. Earlier this month, the Pentagon reiterated its policy of refusing media requests to cover military hearings for 14 terror suspects being jailed at Guantanamo Bay. In a letter to Pentagon officials, the Associated Press said the decision violates the Defense Department's own regulations. The AP agreed some parts of the tribunals might need to be held in secret but it would be a mistake to close them entirely. Nothing about the hearings will become public until the government decides and partial transcripts of the hearings are released. News coverage of the previous combatant status review tribunals was not prohibited, but there were restrictions on some information. Photos and television footage of a suicide bomb attack in March, in which several Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers, taken by Associated Press freelance photographer Rahmat Gul and an unidentified APTN cameraman, were deleted by soldiers. The military later said the troops had come under fire after the car bomb explosion. Media groups in the U.S. continue to be concerned about the growing pratice of public documents being labeled secret or classified. Government officials who cooperate with the press are being investigated. Media coalitions are pushing for legislation to strengthen the federal Freedom of Information Act. The country's national "Sunshine Week" -- with participation by 500 newspapers and newspaper Web sites -- just concluded last week. It has become an annual national cooperative campaign by U.S. media to focus attention on the importance of open-record laws. Media groups are seeking more accountability, and penalties, for agencies that do not release public documents in a timely fashion. As one example, seven federal agencies have gone more than 10 years without responding to requests for information under the law. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives, with substantial support from both political parties, passed bills to make the president and executive branch more open about their actions. The legislation would protect government officials who alert the press to wrongdoing and would require donors to presidential libraries to identify themselves. It also would open to public scrutiny other presidential records. But the Bush administration says it will veto the legislation if passed by Congress.