Archive for Sunday, July 1, 2007

Cheney secrecy stymies accountability

July 1, 2007


I want to spend a few moments talking about someone you may have heard of, a fella by the name of "Dick" Cheney - assuming that's his real name. When it comes to our cloak-and-dagger veep, one can never be too sure.

We are indebted to the Washington Post for vigorous reporting that reminds us what a piece of work the vice president is. Meaning last week's rigorously researched series illustrating how the hand of Cheney has moved in ways unseen to seize power, undermine authority and circumvent the rule of law.

Still, appalling as that is, I think the vice president's character - and that of the administration he serves - is illustrated just as clearly if not more so in a story that broke a few days before the Post piece. It seems there's an office in the federal bureaucracy, the National Archives and Records Administration, whose job includes verifying that the various entities in the executive branch with access to classified information have safeguards to protect that information. We learn from these latest news stories that the vice president's office has refused, since 2003, to file required annual reports on its possession and stewardship of the nation's secrets. When the NARA pressed Cheney's office on the issue, he reportedly tried to have it abolished.

It would be, in any ordinary context, a rather minor dust-up involving an obscure federal office. But we're not dealing with an ordinary context. Rather, the context here is of a vice president and an administration whose obsession with secrecy borders on mania and whose respect for the public's right to know is simply nonexistent.

They have withheld information on matters of personal embarrassment (Cheney shoots a man in the face), public interest (they still won't tell us who advised Cheney's energy policy task force) and even distant history (last year, the government reclassified as secret Cold War-era military information that had been in the public domain for years). They have withdrawn documents from the public sphere, sealed visitors logs from public scrutiny, fought transparency every step of the way.

Now Cheney fights to keep secret from the agency charged with protecting secrets his process for protecting secrets. Unbelievable.

And somewhere, I am sure, Valerie Plame is wishing they had protected her confidential information with equal vigor.

Don't bother, you Bush dead-enders, to send me e-mail pointing out that every administration has secrets. No administration in history has withheld information as prodigiously, determinedly or indiscriminately as this one.

Indeed so secrecy-fixated is this White House that John Dean, Richard Nixon's White House counsel, was once quoted in the Daily Telegraph of London as saying, "Bush and Cheney are a throwback to the Nixon time. All government business is filtered through a political process at this White House, which is the most secretive ever to run the United States."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but when Nixon's consigliere calls you secretive, it's like Tony Soprano saying you have anger management issues.

What's most important here is not that the vice president feels himself above the law, though he obviously does. But the larger issue is embodied in that line from the Declaration of Independence about government "by the consent of the governed." Like the public's right to know, that consent is in danger.

You see, people who are not informed cannot ask pertinent questions. They cannot demand accountability. They cannot give informed consent.

They can only be led. Or, perhaps more accurately, herded. Sheep are herded. We all know what happens to them.

- Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald.


drewdun 10 years, 9 months ago

You're right, spywell. Who cares about any of the (completely valid) points Pitts makes; as long as 'liberals' are angry, good job Bush/Cheney - dead-enders like spywell will be pleased. Rule of law being flouted? As long as the Dems are cheesed, right on administration.

The willful ignorance and mindless hurrahs from the right are sickening, no doubt, but also very telling of the type of person it takes to continue being a supporter of the current regime. There seems to be a correlation between lower than average intelligence and being one of the 26 percenters.

jonas 10 years, 9 months ago

"spywell (Anonymous) says:

I have never seen a President or an adminstration, that made the Dems whine and howl, so much. There should be some kind of award for this."

How old are you? How many administrations do you remember?

Have you considered that it's because this is one of the more poorly run administrations in recent history?

freeordie 10 years, 9 months ago

Well said Drewdun. It's not just the "Dems" whining either. There are many Republicans, Libertarians and independants outraged at this regime's arrogance, corruption and lies. This isn't about some wise-assed Coulter groupie antagonizing so they can feel like they're in that little club, it's about our freedom and the preservation of our constitution and the application of it the way it was intended. Government should have oversight by the people. If everything is kosher why the secrecy? Spywell, if you don't mind lossing your freedom and liberty I've got a nice cellar and some things I need done around the place...

News_to_me 10 years, 9 months ago

Hopefully, with the end of the Bush regime, these relics of the Cold War era will be weeded out of government and we will return not only to sanity but also to "government of the people, by the people and for the people." The amount of damage that has been done to both our standing in the world community and within our borders is unfathomable. Unfortunately, those most responsible, instead of being held accountable, will only receive "lovely parting gifts."

50YearResident 10 years, 9 months ago

Bush to award "Medal of Honor" to Chaney and Himself.

News_to_me 10 years, 9 months ago

I think getting them out of office will be sufficient. Unfortunately, their legacy will haunt our nation for years to come. Perhaps, we will be able to elect someone who will unite us instead of divide, build consensus instead of walls, create opportunities instead of obstacles. We are the deciders.

jonas 10 years, 9 months ago

"I'm just going to simply burst if they can't get something on Cheney or Bush within the next 18 months to convict and imprison or maybe execute.

For crying out loudwhat in the world is taking so long??!!"

Do you remember what it was that they successfully prosecuted and convicted Clinton on, so you can remind me?

Oh yeah, they never got a conviction! Hmmm. . . maybe it's something about being in power as the President! Naaahhhh, I'm sure it's just that none of them ever do anything wrong.

EXks 10 years, 9 months ago

I've have never seen a President or an adminstration, that made the Dems whine and howl, so much. There should be some kind of award for this.

Ok, the person who posted the above statement either has a case of severe amnesia or is 12 years old, I seem to remember the right, far right and the Repubs screaming like spoiled rotten brats during in Clinton years.

If by some divine miracle Billary becomes Prez in 08, I can't wait for them to hyperventilate, that event might be just the cure we need.

Kontum1972 10 years, 9 months ago

Do you remember what it was that they successfully prosecuted and convicted Clinton on, so you can remind me?

he is out of office....move on....the spotlight is on what is happening right now ...

government of the people, by the people, and for the people...shall not perish from this earth .......not by cheneys standards!

Kontum1972 10 years, 9 months ago

dont worry about hillary....shes not the problem right now....the vp is..he is running the show...

drewdun 10 years, 9 months ago

"spywell (Anonymous) says:

We have 18 months to go before, Bush and Company, get thrown off the horse. There will be some big shoes to fill then"


And with that kiss any credibility you had goodbye.

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