2. OFFICIAL U.S. CENSORSHIP: LESS ACCESS TO LESS
Under President Reagan's direction, the government has significantly
reduced public information with little if any media attention. During
the past six years, the American Library Association has documented
Administration efforts to eliminate, restrict, and privatize government
documents many of which had been available to the general public. For
example, since 1982, one of every four of the government's 16,000 publications
has been eliminated.
In 1985, the Office of Management and Budget consolidated its government
information control powers through two initiatives. Circular A-3 requires
annual reviews of agency publications and detailed justifications for
proposed periodicals; Circular A-130 requires cost-benefit analysis
of government information activities, maximum reliance on the private
sector for the dissemination of government information, and cost recovery
through user charges. The obvious result is a continued trend to commercialize
and privatize government information, once thought to be public information.
During 1986, two new developments in official information control and
dissemination procedures emerged:
First, the government launched a new "disinformation" program.
In March 1986, the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence
Agency initiated an official disinformation program which covers 15-20
programs. Deliberately false, incomplete and misleading information,
including altered technical information, will be released in order
to impede the transfer of accurate technological information to the
Soviet Union. On August 14, 1986, in a White House meeting, the administration
launched a secret and unusual disinformation campaign of deception
designed to convince Libyan leader Gadhafi that he was about to be
attacked again by the U.S. and perhaps be ousted in a coup.
Second, the government developed a new category of "sensitive
information" to further restrict public access to a broad range
of unclassified data. This makes possible an extraordinary government
censoring apparatus which could restrict access to private commercial
data bases, censor the information they contain, develop software
which would reveal who is using a data base, and what data they are
calling up, and to license foreign users of commercial U.S. data bases.
(Ironically, at the same time, the federal government is contracting
out the operation of more and more of its libraries to foreign-owned
Following are some of the U.S. agencies, departments, or offices negatively
impacted by Reagan's information control policies in 1986: Department
of Agriculture, Commerce Department, Federal Election Commission, Federal
Communications Commission, Bureau of the Census, Department of Transportation,
Library of Congress, General Accounting Office, Department of Health
and Human Services, Council on Environmental Quality, Department of
Justice, Department of Energy, Government Printing Office, and the Department
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCATION, Washington Office, "Less Access to
Less Information by and About the U.S. Government: 2," 12/86.