Secrecy—a Death Blow to Oversight–a Cover for Incompetence

The current administration has used and abused national security and the secrecy inherent in that catchall phrase to shape American policy (foreign and domestic) without the permission of Americans.

It’s no small thing. Not a momentary accommodation to security nor an acceptable palliative in stressful times. The combination of stamping documents SECRET and attaching signing statements to legislation has all but removed Congressional oversight.

Worse than that, it has increasingly mired the electorate in misinformation campaigns they have no logical standards within which to judge. The answer to every question or complaint, every withheld document, every closed meeting and every reduction of Constitutional guarantees is national security.

There is no way to judge the incompetence of the administration, absent an understanding of what has been decided and The Decider operates in secret. Thus we are left to make our own judgments merely on the basis of actual results and they are, thus far, horrendous.


On the eve of national elections, we will open public opinion and see just how punitive (if at all) will be the voter rejection of a government held in secret by a handful of operatives, all but two of them unelected. Never has America been so blindly led into war, fiscal incompetence and reduced civil rights. Never in history have our citizens been so thoroughly prevented from the knowledge that preserves our republic. Knowledge is power and we have been made powerless.

In a stunning Washington Post article, Carol Leonig and Eric Rich reveal

The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the "alternative interrogation methods" that their captors used to get them to talk.

The government says in new court filings that those interrogation methods are now among the nation’s most sensitive national security secrets and that their release — even to the detainees’ own attorneys — "could reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage." Terrorists could use the information to train in counter-interrogation techniques and foil government efforts to elicit information about their methods and plots, according to government documents submitted to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Oct. 26.

Which is absolute poppycock. The extremely grave damage would be the international admission that Bush’s statement (repeated endlessly in the face of evidence to the contrary) ‘we do not torture’ is a lie. Not a prevarication or a manipulation of truth—an outright lie by the President of the United States. The possible development by terrorists of ‘counter-interrogation techniques’ borders on contempt of Judge Walton’s court, it is such a  dissembling of fact.

Further in the Leonig-Rich article, the chilling comment

The government, in trying to block lawyers’ access to the 14 detainees, effectively asserts that the detainees’ experiences are a secret that should never be shared with the public.

Experiences never shared with the public, within the most free nation on the face of the planet—or so we claim.

All crimes, great and minor, are created in secret. Secrecy in this country has never gone long without discovery and that is the underlying hubris of those who would wield their power in secret. The nation’s 2nd president, John Adams pretty well nailed it;

"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws."

Stacked like cordwood, the lies, deceits and secrets of this administration are at risk. Not from disclosures endangering the national security, certainly not from terrorists and not even from the avalanche of former-staff books elbowing one another for position on the best-seller lists. The lies, deceits and secrets will out, either in the short run of tomorrow’s election or the long run of history’s judgement.

But they will surely not remain secret.

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