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Secrets and lies

Thanks to Dave Farber's IP list, I found Walter Cronkite ruminating on the deeper implications of the Bush Administration's desire to prevent Condoleeza Rice from publically testifying under oath before the Bush Administration's 9/11 Commission:

...standing on that principle [of Executive Privilege] has proved to be politically damaging, in part because this administration—the most secretive since Richard Nixon's—already suffers from a deepening credibility problem. It all brings to mind something I've wondered about for some time: Are secrecy and credibility natural enemies?...

When you stop to think about it, you keep secrets from people when you don't want them to know the truth. Secrets, even when legitimate and necessary, as in genuine national-security cases, are what you might call passive lies.

Cronkite cites a few examples and then concludes.

One sometimes gets the impression that this administration believes that how it runs the government is its business and no one else's. It is certainly not the business of Congress. And if it's not the business of the people's representatives, it's certainly no business of yours or mine.

But this is a dangerous condition for any representative democracy to find itself in. The tight control of information, as well as the dissemination of misleading information and outright falsehoods, conjures up a disturbing image of a very different kind of society. Democracies are not well-run nor long-preserved with secrecy and lies.

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