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Classified Documents and the Right to Know

August 07, 2003

Re "Report Links Saudi Government to 9/11 Hijackers, Sources Say" (Aug. 2), on the possible contents of redacted pages from the congressional report on Sept. 11: High-ranking Republican senators have said that some 95% of the blanked-out data could and should readily be declassified. In fact, it is a federal offense to misuse the national security classification system for political or other non-security purposes. Yet the president has just misstated his own rationale for maintaining this cloak of secrecy. If a few names or sources were excised, then the data, whatever it is, could be released, and The Times and others could stop guessing what the contents might reveal. Instead of speculating what the missing information might be, let the media have headlines screaming that the president is abusing the rights of Americans to know, due to illicit security classifications.

Charles S. Hoff

Rancho Palos Verdes

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