Workers at the top-secret Air Force base near Groom Lake were squaring off against the government in court Wednesday in a lawsuit over incidents involving hazardous chemicals — incidents in which two workers have already died. But President Clinton, claiming executive privilege, has issued an executive order to withhold evidence in the case — as Commander in Chief, he's worried about top secret information getting vetted in public court.
The move is virtually unprecedented, and attorneys for the plaintiffs, finding their flow of evidence effectively stanched, are claiming that all this presidential privilege is in violation of their right to sue. The Justice Department (in a familiar refrain) says that Clinton has done nothing wrong.
What's going? Is the truth in there? Despite its Mulderesque overtones, the Area 51 hush-up (which has so far received a minimum of press coverage) is more of a Constitutional tangle than an extraterrestrial one. But you never know — and if the President has his way, you never will.