To the editor:

Recent press accounts of my concern regarding press censorship have missed a crucial point that I have emphasized each time I have spoken on this issue: Our right to know and the right of a free press to report does not extend to information that could endanger allied troop safety or which would reveal or undermine future military plans.There is an unquestionable (national and security) interest in restricting sensitive information about military plans, capabilities and vulnerabilities that could jeopardize an operation or the safety of allied forces.

The press is properly restricted from divulging such information, as well as from reporting casualties before the next of kin can be notified. These rules have long been recognized as necessary in times of war, even in a society which cherishes a free press as a pillar of its democracy. I seek no change.

My concern, rather, is the establishment, in this war, of rules that extend beyond security requirements.

Managed news does not serve the true interest of our country. It will not lead us on a quicker or more painless road to victory. On the contrary, I believe it will eventually sow seeds of distrust and suspicion in the public and ultimately erode support for the war.

During the congressional debate three weeks ago, I voted to continue sanctions, which administration spokesmen testified were working.

But when a majority vote authorized the president to use force, the debate was over, and I have since risen twice in Congress and countless times elsewhere to pledge my unreserved support for the president as commander-in-chief and for our troops fighting in the gulf.

I have pledged to do all I can to see that our troops have everything they need to achieve success and return home quickly.

Rep. Wayne Owens

Salt Lake City