REAGAN'S MANIA FOR SECRECY: GOVERNMENT DECISIONS WITHOUT DEMOCRACY On December 3, 1986, Pr
REAGAN'S MANIA FOR SECRECY: GOVERNMENT DECISIONS WITHOUT DEMOCRACY
On December 3, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed Public Law
99-494 proclaiming 1987 "The Year of the Reader." The blatant
hypocrisy of that act was clear throughout 1987 as the Reagan
administration outdid itself in its efforts to control, interpret,
manipulate, disinform, and censor all forms of information.
Typical of the Reagan administration's efforts to control its own
destiny and the nation's history was the Justice Department memorandum
filed in a lawsuit that could enable Reagan to control the history of
his involvement in the Iran/contra scandal. The administration is
seeking to overturn a 1986 Federal court ruling which limited Nixon's
right to block the release of his White House papers. The Justice
Department memorandum would allow Nixon to withdraw any documentation
he thought should be supressed. In effect, Nixon would be in control
of U.S. history between 1968 and 1974. If Nixon wins, it will pave the
way for Reagan to control U.S. history from l980 to 1988.
While alarming, this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it
comes to Reagan's mania for secrecy. Following are just three groups
that tried to warn us about what was happening; the nation's leading
press didn't think their stories were that important.
PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY -- A report titled "Government
Secrecy: Decisions Without Democracy," published in December 1987,
provides more than 100 pages of well-documented charges about the
growing secrecy system and its dangers to American democracy. The
report "tells the story of the institutionalization of secrecy
throughout the federal government ... the story of unprecedented
controls on information, not only on defense and foreign policy issues
where legitimate secrets do need to be protected but on a host of
topics vital to our daily lives, from toxic wastes to occupational
hazards, from new technology to the health of our children."
THE REPORTERS COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS -- In March,
1987, the Reporters Committee issued a "FYI Media Alert" about how the
Reagan administration and its supporters restrict public and media
access to government information and intrude on editorial freedom.
The 50-page report, retroactive to March 1981, lists 135 specific
actions, including threatened prosecution of the press for publishing
classified information; expulsion of foreign journalists; proposed
restrictive amendments to the Freedom of Information Act; proposed and
actual use of lie detectors, and many other cases.
THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION -- The ALA released its 1987
updated "Less Access to Less Information By and About the U.S.
Government: IX," covering 1987. The chronology, which was started in
1981, provides a damning indictment of Reagan administration efforts
to "restrict and privatize government information" which has led to
significantly limited access to public documents and statistics. The
new 1987 report adds 30 pages and 78 specific items to the case for
Reagan's mania for secrecy.
SOURCES: THE NATION, 5/23/87, "History Deleted," pp 669-670;
GOVERNMENT DECISIONS WITHOUT DEMOCRACY, December 1987, by People For
The American Way, pp 1-104+; FYI MEDIA ALERT 1987, March 1987, "The
Reagan Administration & The News Media," by The Reporters Committee
for Freedom of the Press, pp 1-50; THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION,
Washington Office, "Less Access to Less Information By and About the
U.S. Government: IX," December 1987, by Anne A. Heanue.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank