Secrecy isn’t sacrosanct

 At this rate, the Obama administration will soon cite “executive privilege” like Karl Rove and the rest of the Bush-era crooks.

In the first month of the new presidency, Obama has sided with Bush on rendition, state secrets, and Obama will try to stop a lawsuit into the hidden White House e-mails during the run up to the Iraq war and the Valerie Plame charade. Now, that is change that doesn’t exist.

As an indistinguishable talking head said last week, and the Tank paraphrases, “It is easy to campaign against secrecy, but once you have that job, secrecy is nice to have.”

Secrecy is fundamental to keeping power, according to Noam Chomsky. He writes:

“As for the secret diplomatic record, it’s difficult to think of anything that has been released that was ever a secret which actually involved security — they involve marginalizing the population, that’s what government secrets are for.

“The idea that a government has to be shrouded in mystery is something that goes back to Herodotus [ancient Greek historian]. You read Herodotus, and he describes how the Medes and others won their freedom by struggle, and they the lost their freedom when the institution of royalty was invented to create a cloak of mystery around power. See, the idea behind royalty was that there’s this other species of individuals who beyond the norm and who the people are not supposed to understand. That’s the standard way you cloak and protect power: you make it look mysterious and secret, above the ordinary person — otherwise, why should anybody accept it? Well, they’re willing to accept it out of fear that some great enemies are about to destroy them, and because of that they’ll cede their authority to the Lord, or the King, or the President or something, just to protect themselves. That’s the way governments work — that’s the way any system of power works — and the secrecy system is part of it.”

Exposing the secrecy of the Bush administration isn’t politically advantageous for Obama — he had enough trouble getting Republicans on board with the stimulus package. Trying to expose the truth with subpoenas will only exacerbate the partisan divide.

A possible compromise is what Sen. Patrick Leahy calls a truth commission, where no charges will be filed. The only goal is to “get to the bottom of what happened — and why — to make sure it never happens again.” It would be like granting immunity for candid testimony.

If the awful actions of the Bush administration remains hidden, it will only hurt people and protect power.



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