Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bush's other GWOT: The Global War on Transparency

Gary Wills expresses very accurately the grave danger that the Bush regime's global war on transparency poses to our democracy:

A more serious way of keeping citizens out of the decision process is the modern cult of secrecy. We must, we are told, trust our leaders to make decisions we are not qualified to evaluate. Lyndon Johnson said that if we knew what he did, we would approve his actions in Vietnam—but we could not know. The information was "classified." When a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff criticized the preparations for the Gulf War, Secretary of State James Baker said his comments should be disregarded because he was no longer cleared to read the latest intelligence reports. If a man with those credentials is dismissed, how can humble citizen I or humble citizen you have any right to an opinion? Secrecy is a shield against every other authority or challenge....

Anything that might be embarrassing to a president is now treated as a national security issue—weakening him, it is said, will hamper his dealings with foreign powers. Unless we treat him as infallible, foes will see him as powerless. Since democracy is impossible without accountability, and accountability is impossible if secrecy hides the acts to be held accountable, making a just war may become impossible for lack of a competent democratic authority to declare it. A president who can make a war of choice, not of necessity, at his pleasure, on the basis of privileged information, treating his critics as enemies of the state, is no longer a surreal fantasy. (Italics added)

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