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Reagan administration papers opened to public, offering details of meetings, memos

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) _ Tens of thousands of presidential papers from the Reagan administration have been released, offering the public a glimpse at memos between administration officials and minutes of Cabinet meetings.

The papers released Friday included a 1985 memo showing the administration's growing concern about congressional criticism of the U.S. response to terrorism.

``I see real trouble brewing here,'' Ed Fox said in the memo to Alan M. Kranowitz, a fellow member of the White House office of legislative affairs and assistant to the president on House affairs.

The previous month, Palestinian terrorists had hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, shot U.S. citizen Leon Klinghoffer in his wheelchair and threw his body into the Mediterranean Sea. Four of the hijackers were later captured when U.S. warplanes intercepted an airline flight they were aboard and forced it to land in Sicily.

``If the PLO nuts or anyone else retaliates for our intercept of their buddies from Egypt, the President will be the target of attack by a bipartisan Congress,'' the memo said. ``They will ask why the Administration did not move to protect our sons and daughters abroad who are risking their lives in the service of our country.''

The memo apparently mentioned strengthening U.S. embassies and facilities abroad, giving insight into the responses to terrorism many years before it reached American soil.

The 59,850 pages of documents had been kept closed by law for 12 years because they contain confidential internal advice and deliberations among government officials.

The papers range from meeting minutes to memos on policies for issues such as air pollution and civil rights. They follow the release earlier this year of some 8,000 pages.

The documents often lack full references or context, and have yet to be assessed by researchers for their importance in the history of the Reagan White House or relevance to subsequent administrations.

The papers included recommended ``talking points'' for Reagan in telephone calls with people ranging from members of Congress to Mother Teresa. One memo suggested Reagan telephone a lawmaker who had complained of feeling intense pressure from a White House staffer seeking the lawmaker's vote on a tax bill.

The president made the call, and scribbled a note on the memo: ``I think I cleared the air. It was a stupid call for anyone to make and let's have no more of this kind of thing. RR.''

Still sealed are 150 pages of Reagan papers and tens of thousands of pages left behind by former Vice President George Bush. Those documents are under review by the White House or have not been scheduled for release.

Just a few people were on hand when the Reagan papers were made available Friday in the research section of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

``For the first time we are releasing confidential advice,'' said Duke Blackwood, the library director. ``I think it gives the public another inside look at how decision-making in the administration worked.''
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