Ever since the president's first-term labor secretary and old friend, Robert Reich, published his memoir of the Clinton administration, there has been a controversy over its fairness and factuality. In his book, Reich reports dialogue from social encounters, government meetings and so forth that he attended, often to the detriment of others who were present. Many have challenged his account. So have some journalists. Reich has defended his technique.

Herewith we publish some of the key documents: a piece from the on-line magazine Slate by Jonathan Rauch of the National Journal; Reich's reply to the piece in Slate; and an excerpt from a widely circulated letter to Reich from former AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland.

For my sins, I have just read your book, "Locked in the Cabinet."

I had supposed that we had a reasonably cordial relationship, and that I had accorded you the respect appropriate to your position. I was surprised, therefore, at the venom that pervades your imaginative accounts of some of our meetings.

I did not, in fact, utter the words that you attribute to me in various places, in direct quotation marks, as though you were repeating my words verbatim. I question the literary and scholastic ethics of spicing up your account in this manner.

I particularly resent your false and discourteous references to my wife, Irena. That resentment is compounded by the fact that your account of the evening at our house is, for the most part, simply untrue.

In the first place, Irena is not Hungarian, but Czech. She was born, Jewish, in Prague and paid a very heavy price for both conditions of birth. She survived Nazi concentration camps (Therezienstadt and Auschwitz-Birkenau) and, after 1948, was imprisoned by the Communist regime for her activities as a leader of the youth branch of the Social Democratic Party.

She has paid her dues to the history of our time. She is not, as you imply, some sort of snooty social hostess, but a real person, worth knowing, as were others present that evening.

Your own recital of the evening's alleged cast of characters is baffling. You mention someone from General Motors with a wife employed by The Post. No such persons were there, and I do not know any such persons.

You mentioned someone named "Peter" from National Public Radio, with a wife named Charlotte "who is administrative assistant to Senator Blank." No such persons were there, and I do not know any such person. You refer to a "Jeff Blank, undersecretary of state for blank" -- another ghost of your imagination.

You say that you were seated at dinner "between Kathy from White House liaison and Carolyn from a public relations firm." Again, no such persons were there, and I do not know such persons, if they do, in fact exist.

Alan Greenspan was indeed there, with Andrea Mitchell, and I make no apology for it whatever. We are friends of long standing, and I enjoy his company.

Believe it or not, it is possible to have friends whose political and economic views clash with your own, and I have a good many of that kind. It is sometimes more useful and wit-sharpening than to confine your ambit to those whose opinions are knee-jerk replicas of your own. . . .

Another passage in your book purports to describe, in invidious terms, our dinner at Joe's Stone Crab, in Florida, before your meeting with the AFL-CIO Executive Council. No one else on our side at that affair remembers it quite the way you seem to do.

You suggest, or surmise, that I was upset because you were the first Democratic secretary of labor with "no previous connection with organized labor." Maurice Tobin and Willard Wirtz, not to mention Frances Perkins, would be surprised to learn that.

In fact, I have frequently expressed my strong opinion that secretaries of labor should not be drawn from the trade union movement, and they seldom have been. Nor did I engage in the tour of the cultural horizon (Kant, Goethe, the Hapsburg Empire, etc.) that you describe. I would have regarded it as wildly inappropriate, if not a little nutty, on such an occasion. In any event, I wouldn't have known how to fake that kind of scholarly erudition, even if I had wanted to.

You state that some secretaries of labor have acted as AFL-CIO ambassadors to the White House and some as White House ambassadors to the AFL-CIO and that you did not care to be either.

Who asked you to? Certainly not I. The fulfillment of the statutory duties of the secretary, which you cite elsewhere in your novel, would have been entirely sufficient. The writer is former president of the AFL-CIO.