Charlie Reese – Wednesday, October 29, 2003
It is a sad thing, but the Bush administration is the most deceptive (or, if you wish to be generous, the most misinformed and manipulated) crew that has occupied the White House in the past few decades.
It is also the most secretive administration.
Let's get down to basics. There are two reasons, and only two reasons, for classifying any information as secret. One, of course, is information that would inform an enemy of our military plans and thus enable the enemy to counter them. The other reason is when revealing the information would reveal the human source of the information, such as a spy.
Using those standards, darn little information would be classified, but the Bush administration seems to want to classify everything. Why, for example, should the report of David Kay's search for weapons of mass destruction be classified? There can be nothing in that report that the Iraqis don't know. One can conclude that the only harm full publication would cause would be political embarrassment to the Bush administration.
The fact is, those inspectors work for the American people, the American people are paying their salaries and expenses, and by God the American people are entitled to know what they are getting for their money. No national-security matter is involved whatsoever.
Why classify that part of a report of a congressional inquiry that involves the Saudis? The Saudi Arabian government publicly demanded that it be declassified. Why should the American people be denied the results of their elected officials' work? Just what harm is going to be caused by letting the American people know what a number of members of Congress and their staffs already know?
Why should the names of anyone held by the federal government, in U.S. jails or in Guantanamo, be classified as secret? This is pure totalitarianism. The ridiculous term "enemy combatant" really means a person whose rights are being denied. You can't have a combatant without a war, and when people in a war are captured, they are prisoners of war, subject to all the rights spelled out by the Geneva Convention.
Certainly these people have relatives and friends who know they are being held somewhere and of course know their names. Why can't those names be published? It's ridiculous. This administration is paranoid. It is not safe to have mentally unhealthy people wielding great power.
The American people should be angry. They pay every penny of the cost of government. It is their government. They have a right to know anything the government knows and anything the government does, with the two exceptions cited above. It is not a foreign enemy the Bush administration fears. It is the American people.
I read some years ago an estimate that two-thirds of American history is still classified, and I don't doubt that at all. Stuff going all the way back to World War II is still classified long after there is rational reason for it being so.
I hope the American people will realize eventually that people who lie to them and keep secrets from them are people who consider them to be enemies. Any politician who fears or dislikes the American people should be routed out of office immediately.
The Bush administration, for its own private reasons, wanted to go to war against a country that had not attacked us, had not threatened to attack us and did not have the capability of attacking us. Therefore it concocted a lie about non-existent weapons and nonexistent relationships with al-Qaida. Now, to protect its lies, the administration wants to classify practically everything that has to do with the Iraq War and occupation.
I'm sure the president's friends in Texas miss him, and next year, hopefully, the American people will return him to their bosom. He is, for all his faults, a decent and affable man who probably knows less of what's going on in his own administration than we do. At least some of us are interested; he doesn't seem to be.
Last updated 02/11/2003