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Office of the Press Secretary

April 5, 2001


The J.W. Marriott Hotel Washington, D.C.


Q: Sir, as you know, at the heart of this newspaper organization is its passion for preserving and enhancing the nation's access to information. Would you take this moment to articulate your own view of First Amendment freedoms, and give us a sense of the fundamental message that you will send to your administration as it makes decisions on whether to open or close access to government information?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. There needs to be balance when it comes to freedom of information laws. There's some things that when I discuss in the privacy of the Oval Office or national security matters that just should not be in the national arena.

On the other hand, my administration will cooperate fully with freedom of information requests if it doesn't jeopardize national security, for example. The interesting problem I have, or for me, as the President, is what's personal and what's not personal. Frankly, I haven't been on the job long enough to have been -- to have had to make those choices.

I'll give you one area, though, where I'm very cautious, and that's about e-mailing. I used to be an avid e-mailer, and I e-mailed to my daughters or e-mailed to my father, for example. And I don't want those e-mails to be in public -- in the public domain. So I don't e-mail any more, out of concern for freedom of information laws, but also concern for my privacy.

But we'll cooperate with the press, unless we think it's a matter of national security, or something that's entirely private.


Source: White House

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