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Aggressive secrecy has no place in democracy

Posted: Monday, November 04, 2002

Nearly a year after President Bush signed an executive order to withhold papers of past presidents from the public, the question remains: What is there in the communiqus between Ronald Reagan and his subordinates 20 years ago that Mr. Bush doesn't want Americans to see?

Enough members of Congress are still genuinely concerned that a House committee led by an otherwise die-hard Bush supporter has adopted legislation that would countermand the secrecy order.

The executive order of Nov. 1, 2001, set virtually insurmountable obstacles for release of presidential papers, leading to speculation that Mr. Bush is trying to protect his father against embarrassing disclosures.

Or maybe the President figures he'll have something to hide when his tenure is up.

A 1978 federal law provided for automatic release of White House documents, with some exceptions, after 12 years. But Mr. Bush stalled for nine months after he took office, then signed the order. It sets up a convoluted, patently illegal disclosure policy that would keep documents secret unless both the current and former president agreed on release.

... (T)hat sort of aggressive secrecy has no legitimate basis in law.

The Reagan papers must be released, and even Mr. Bush's most ardent supporters agree.

-- The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

Oct. 28



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