Clinton reaffirms Area 51 must remain classified information

The following article from "Las Vegas Review-Journal", February 02, 2000, was brought to our attention by Devin Loving from Las Vegas, NV.
For the full text of the document mentioned in this article see President Clintons Letter to Congress on Groom Lake, Nevada.

   WASHINGTON -- President Clinton informed Congress on Tuesday he will continue to keep classified all information about Air Force activities at a secret base near Groom Lake.
   "Information concerning activities at the operating location near Groom Lake has been properly determined to be classified, and its disclosure would be harmful to national security," Clinton wrote regarding a presidential determination he issued last Sept. 20.
   The president annually has signed a similar document declaring information about the base -- known as Area 51 -- to be a secret.
   A Washington attorney said the timing of the president's letter was tied to litigation pressed by former workers trying to free information to support their claims they were exposed to toxic fumes at the base.
   Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who has represented the families, said Tuesday was the deadline for the government to turn over a transcript of a sealed hearing that could show whether government officials lied publicly about the case.
   "Today, the military was supposed to give (U.S. District) Judge (Philip) Pro the transcript of a very important sealed hearing," Turley said.
   He said the transcript will reveal what he terms an unclassified discussion in which government attorneys requested information about reporters who had talked to the workers at Area 51, as well as classified manuals about the base that have been widely available on the Internet. Turley said that after the hearing, government attorneys claimed they never asked for such information.

   "That transcript will show which one of us was lying," said Turley. "Obviously, I can promise you, when the transcript appears, you're going to find the government lied, and then I'm just going to leave it up to the media on what to do."
   Turley said Clinton's letter to Congress on Tuesday merely reaffirms the government's position that releasing information about Area 51 would threaten national security, on the day the judge is receiving a transcript in the case.
   "They (government attorneys) are still uncomfortable with releasing this transcript because of the public embarrassment, so they're still making ridiculous security claims, and the presidential determination helps them do that," said Turley.
   The White House referred questions about Clinton's letter to the National Security Council, which did not respond late Tuesday.
   The workers and their families have been trying for more than six years to compel the government to admit Area 51 exists and that illegal dumping of hazardous materials occurred there.

By Christine Dorsey
From "Las Vegas Review-Journal", February 02, 2000

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