President Ronald Reagan nicknamed 1987 "The Year of the 
Reader," but throughout 1987 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 effort to control its 
own destiny and the nation's history was the Justice Department 
memorandum 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 that limited 
Nixon's right to block the release of his White House papers. The 
Justice Department memorandum, filed in a lawsuit, would allow 
Nixon to withdraw any documentation he though should be 
suppressed. In effect, this would put Nixon in control of U.S. 
history between 1968 and 1974. If Nixon wins, it will pave the way 
for Reagan to determine official U.S. history from 1980 to 1988.
     While alarming, this is only one small example of Reagan's 
mania for secrecy. Following are the reports of three groups that 
tried to warn us about what was happening.
PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY. This group's report provides more 
than 100 pages of well-documented charges concerning the growing 
trend toward secrecy in government and its threat to American 
democracy. It "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."
issued an alert about how the Reagan administration and its 
supporters restrict public access to government information. The 
50-page report lists 135 specific actions that have occurred since 
1981, including threatened prosecution of the press publishing 
classified information; expulsion of foreign journalists; proposed 
amendments to weaken the Freedom of Information Act; and the use 
of lie detectors.
THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION. The latest edition of the 
association's annual report on censorship provides a damning 
indictment of Reagan administration efforts to "restrict and 
privatize government information" such as public documents and 
statistics. The 1987 report adds 78 items to the case for Reagan's 
secrecy mania.
Sources: THE NATION, May 23, 1987, "History Deleted"; GOVERNMENT 
DECISIONS WITHOUT DEMOCRACY, December 1987, by People for the 
American Way; FYI MEDIA ALERT 1987, March 1987, "The Reagan 
Administration and the News Media," by the Reporters Committee for 
Freedom of the Press; 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.
From: UTNE READER, September/October 1988, pp. 86-87.