The Attorney General's Commission on Pornography is hiding behind a "veil of censorship" by no longer making public its draft reports and working papers, the American Civil Liberties Union has charged.
"I know many members of the commission would like to cover up pornography, but that is no reason for the commission itself to operate behind a brown paper wrapper," said Barry W. Lynn, the ACLU's legislative counsel.
Lynn said in a letter that the panel was violating a law requiring federal advisory commissions to release their working papers.
He criticized the staff for announcing the decision at a closed luncheon meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., and for asking the Justice Department to exempt it from the law. The commission's decision was made shortly after ACLU used the panel's documents to criticize its tentative recommendations, such as the use of prostitution and pandering laws against the X-rated film and videotape industry.
Lynn said the commission's staff had suggested "that 'organized crime' would be interested in these documents and even that release of these documents could jeopardize the safety of the staff of the commission." Lynn said this made no sense because the panel held a hearing on the mob and pornography.
A commission spokesman declined to comment pending a formal response to ACLU.