Monday, December 08, 2008

The special super extra double secret club of power

Makes one forget that the government works FOR the people.

Glenn Greenwald of Salon
Part of what motivates this Beltway fixation on secrecy is an ignoble attribute of human nature, or at least an attribute of a certain common psyche. The more exclusive a club is, the more privileged someone feels to belong to it. The fewer people with access to certain information, the more special those who have been granted access to it -- Beltway insiders and source-pleasing journalists -- believe themselves to be.

Francis Bacon's now-clich├ęd-though-still-true observation that "knowledge is power" means that the more ignorant the rabble are kept about what Beltway rulers are doing, the more powerful Beltway rulers and their underlings become. Hence, Beltway insiders cherish their secrecy (and though it's amazing in one sense, it should thus come as no surprise that Miller is actually a career journalist -- someone who therefore, in theory, ought to cheer when government officials disclose what they see, not think of ways to empower political officials to legally suppress it).

As much as we need anything else, we need a massive reduction in government secrecy and a massive increase in transparency. Obama himself (as well as, ironically, CAP's President and Obama tranistion chief John Podesta) has repeatedly said as much:

"People from every State in this great Nation sent us to Congress to defend their rights and stand up for their interests," Sen. Obama said in a prepared floor statement. "To do that we have to tear down the barriers that separate citizens from the democratic process and to shine a brighter light on the inner workings of Washington."

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