President Truman has a right to prevent leaks of secret information to the press, Louis Lyons, curator of the Nieman Fellows, said last night. He was referring to the recent presidential order allowing civilian administrative agencies to withhold news from newspapers by classifying it "top secret" and "confidential."
The executive move was sharply criticized by the Association of Managing Editors at its annual meeting over the weekend.
Lyons added that he hoped the President would clarify his order so that agencies wouldn't use it to "withhold legitimate information to cover up their own mistakes."
"It would be unfortunate to enlarge the area for withholding news," Lyons said. The military departments already have almost unlimited rights to withhold developments.
He also thought Truman's directive poorly timed as it came out when the country's managing editors could protest in unison. Although he believes there is some politics involved in the A.M.E.'s protest, he feels that it is "conducting a useful campaign against suppression."