The Bush administration has extended secrecy to unprecedented levels, covering virtually every aspect of government and concealing documents and actions heretofore available to Congress and the public. The claim is made that this secrecy is needed as a matter of national defense on one hand, and in order to provide the President with a wide range of opinions on the other. The result is a dramatic loss of freedom and democracy.
The champion of secrecy is Dick Cheney, who seems to survive only in dark places with hidden agendas. His recent trip to attend the meeting of the super-secret Council for National Policy echoes his infamous energy policy meetings early in this administration. The CNP is a group of the richest, most powerful men of our nation, whose membership is secret and whose purpose is to discuss ways in which they can control the national agenda.
Of course we know that the administration has contended that virtually every discussion by any part of the federal apparatus should be withheld from the public. The argument given is that if those conversations were to be available to the public, it would suppress free and open debates on policy matters, depriving the President of those views.
More documents, including many thousands once declassified, have been classified secret by this administration on the basis that there disclosure would threaten national security. Even the existence of illegal surveillance is argued to be justifiably withheld from not only the public but courts themselves on this pretense. This administration has put forth the “state secret” argument in court and elsewhere more often than all the previous administrations combined. There is nothing to trivial for this band of pirates to hide from Congress and the people.
Since the ‘war on terror” is one that by definition will never end, we as a people need to address a very troubling reality – we are no longer a free nation and the voice of the people has been silenced.
First, the contention that the President will not get the best information and advice from his staff and administration officials if their discussions can be made public is deeply troubling. It means that those advising the President would not have the guts to tell him the truth without the cloak of secrecy. Are we such a spineless nation that we cannot openly discuss matters, even those of the greatest sensitivity, unless we can say one thing in private and then lie in public? That is the greatest insult possible.
As for the argument that national security requires greatly expanded secrecy, that is unalloyed bullshit. Yes, there are some matters directly related to intelligence gathering and troop deployments, etc. that may require secrecy. But if we are to have military policies controlled by Congress as is dictated by the Constitution we must have the greatest disclosure possible, not the least. We must be able to get sufficient information to make informed decisions. Else we should just close Congress and admit we are the dictatorship we have in fact become.
Secrecy is the enemy of democracy. It covers the kinds of evil perversity this administration has become known for. It conceals malfeasance more than it promotes security. Secrecy is the tool of despots and those who arrogate to themselves the power to make decisions.
The sad thing is that none of the Presidential hopefuls other than Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul have given any indication they would significantly scale back this hiding of the public’s business from the public. Changing the guard is not going to swing open the gates of liberty unless both the press and the public demand more openness.
If we keep closing the public out of all matters on the phony claim of secrecy we will have lost any hope of a free society.