To the editor:

On March 16, a Deseret News editorial entitled "Protect Freedom of Information" responsibly and correctly emphasized the importance of citizen access to federal documents.Our founders recognized that the cornerstone of democracy is a free press. A profoundly important check on the excesses of an elected government is the ability of the citizenry to monitor and scrutinize governmental activities.

In recognition and in celebration of this, the Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1966.

Unfortunately, as the Deseret News so accurately pointed out, the provisions and protections of the act have been substantially eroded in the last eight years.

Excessive delays attend most requests and when a response is finally received it is often times unreadable due to heavy-handed deletions. The result has been a subtle subversion of access rights.

It may be disputed whether this increased difficulty in obtaining information has been an intentional government-sponsored campaign of nondisclosure or the result of reluctance to allocate resources sufficient to handle the requests.

But whatever the reason for the government's recalcitrance, it is the people, the press and the democratic process which suffer. I commend the Deseret News for pointing this out in such a timely and eloquent fashion.

Robyn E. Blumner

Executive Director

ACLU of Utah