The Pentagon's plan to restrict coverage of a war in the Persian Gulf and impose "security review' of all reports from the combat zone is government censorship of the news.

Regardless of what name the military gives it and what reasons they make up for it, this program is an effort by the government to control what the public knows. It is a prior restraint on publication, an outrageous abuse of power by the Pentagon.

During the Vietnam War, reporters and television crews were essentially free to go where they wanted and report what they wanted.

In a handful of cases where security breaches occurred, they were inadvertent. But security breaches are not what's really worrying the Pentagon now. They remember that tough, honest reporting on Vietnam helped fuel the anti-war movement, and they are concerned about the corrosive effects of truth once again.

The system being put in place in the Middle East requires that all combat coverage for print or television be undertaken by pools of reporters under military escort.

No independent coverage will be allowed. The pool reports will be subject to Pentagon review before being distributed to the other news media for dissemination around the world.

In other words, the Pentagon is going to decide what you will be allowed to read and see about the war.

The generals swear that their only concern is security. Don't believe it. They want to make sure that they control the spin of what is reported.

They don't want their mistakes reported. They want the press to be a cheering section for them. They want to run the war, and they want to edit the newspapers and television stations that report it.