The National Archives is withholding from the public about 2,600 pages of records at President Clinton's direction, despite a public assurance by one of his top aides last month that Mr. Clinton "has not blocked the release of a single document."
The 2,600 pages, stored at Mr. Clinton's library in Arkansas, were deemed to contain "confidential advice" and, therefore, "closed" under the Presidential Records Act, an Archives spokeswoman, Susan Cooper, told The New York Sun yesterday.
An official who oversees the presidential libraries operated by the federal government, Sharon Fawcett, said in a recent interview that the records were withheld in accordance with a letter Mr. Clinton wrote in 1994 exercising his right to hold back certain types of files and another letter in 2002 about narrowing the scope of his earlier instructions. Asked by National Journal whether Mr. Clinton had "total control" over the closure of records under the confidential-advice provisions of the law, Ms. Fawcett said he did.
At a Democratic presidential debate in October, Senator Clinton was questioned about language in the 2002 letter that discussed the possibility of withholding some records about the former first lady. Mr. Clinton later called the questions "breathtakingly misleading" and complained bitterly that his wife had been sandbagged.
"Bill Clinton has not blocked the release of a single document," the former president's official representative on records issues, Bruce Lindsey, said in a written statement last month aimed at defusing criticism in the press and by one of Mrs. Clinton's rivals for the Democratic nomination, Senator Obama of Illinois. Spokesmen for Mrs. Clinton's campaign and Mr. Clinton's office did not respond to requests for comment.
Ms. Cooper said she was not aware whether any of the 2,600 pages of withheld advice records pertain to Mrs. Clinton. Asked about Mr. Lindsey's statement, Ms. Cooper said, "Not all of those pages were closed by Mr. Lindsey, in fact, the National Archives does the first set of processing. ? At least some of those materials were closed by our archivists."
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