Strategy of secrecy
Dear Editor:I just finished reading John W. Dean’s latest book, “Worse Than Watergate, The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush” and found it to be a clearly written and well-researched indictment (Dean’s word) of the policies of our co-presidents, Bush and Richard Cheney. Richard Nixon’s former counsel, Dean, who was embroiled with so many others in the Watergate fiasco, is hardly a stranger to the Machiavellian aspects of power struggles at the highest levels of our government. If he says that this regime is worse than Nixon’s, we should probably take heed. So I did, I read the book. One of his major points is that secrecy is harmful not only to those from whom the secret is kept but also, and maybe more importantly, to those who are being secretive. Dean deals at some length with the virtual explosion of conspiracy theories spawning on the net concerning 9/11, claiming that lack of transparency by authorities actually feeds and helps propagate irresponsible speculation. He cites, among others, the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of Kennedy and the Iran-Contra investigation in Reagan’s term as being so vague and unsatisfactory that some people felt obliged to make up their own versions of events. The intelligence of the general population was thereby insulted and suspicion turned toward those who were perceived to have withheld information. One example of the Bush administration’s unnecessary and possibly harmful secrecy policy is to be found in the recent Ford versus Firestone brouhaha. After the fact, Congress passed what could be called a “Sunshine Law” opening automobile safety reports to the public. Bush and company promptly issued an executive order declaring that information secret. How is the public served here? Another example is the peremptory executive order overturning a law that makes presidential documents public property and, after being sealed for a certain time, open for public research. When it came time for Reagan’s to be opened, Bush had them sealed up and just told everyone, “No, you can’t have them.” Who gains here and how?Obfuscation, misdirection and just plain stonewalling are tactics of choice in Bush’s strategy of secrecy. No better example can be found than in the administration’s obstructionism in the formation of the 9/11 Commission. Dean spends some time documenting and analyzing the stages of this difficult birth, one of which was Bush’s attempt to appoint Henry Kissinger as the head of this commission. Breathtaking in its audacity, that act serves to point up how far removed from the general public Bush and his administration are and how little they care.I highly recommend this book to anyone trying to gain an understanding of the mechanics of government, and I encourage us all to speak out loud and clear for openness and accountability in all facets of our self-governance.Stay tuned for commentary.Gene KopeckyCarbondale
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