Columbia News Video Forum

Top Secret? Debate Continues Over Public Access to Presidential Papers

Access to presidential papers is part of a larger issue of who owns history, says Floyd Abrams, the William J. Brennan Jr. Visiting Professor of First Amendment Issues at the Graduate School of Journalism, in a recent breakfast panel hosted by the School. Panelists include: David Armstrong, National Security News Service, Tony Coles, former deputy mayor to Rudolf Guiliani, and Robert Caro, LBJ biographer and journalist.

Floyd Abrams

History is at Stake with Presidential Papers, Says Abrams
Presidential papers and records ultimately provide the means by which the world is able to judge public figures and historical events, says Abrams.

Real (7:38)Video
Panel Discussion

Robert Caro

David Armstrong

Anthony Paul Coles

Barriers in Accessing Papers are Real, Say Panelists
The Bush administration has, in effect, exploited public security concerns after 9/11 to push its own pre-9/11 vision of curtailing public access to presidential records, says David Armstrong of National Security News Service. He said the Bush administration's philosophy is -- when in doubt, keep it classified. Panelist Tony Coles, former deputy mayor to Rudolf Guiliani, says history belongs to everyone and that a nonprofit organization has been formed to grant public access to the Guiliani papers. Reaffirming "unfettered access" to the papers of people in power, LBJ biographer and journalist Robert Caro describes how he uncovered the 1940 document revealing LBJ used dollars to gain a foothold in power.

Real (41:51)Video

Shot: Nov 26, 2002
Published: Dec 05, 2002
Last modified:Dec 04, 2002