Friday, December 22, 2006

Hiding "Consorting with the Enemy"

Once again the Bush White House has covered its face in mud – Big Time.

The issue is an old one. It goes back to the earliest attempts by humans – make that the predecessors of homo sapiens – to communicate across space and time a message to another being without a third being learning the content of the communication, and sometimes even the fact that a communication occurred.

Opposing this bureaucratic tendency to scoop up and conceal even the existence of a “secret,” let alone possessing substantive information is the principle that the public in a free society is entitled to be informed by government of what those elected are doing and not doing in the peoples’ name. This is so fundamental to the social contract of a modern democracy that a government that does not “push” information to the public (as opposed to the public having to demand it from the bureaucracy), let alone a government that actively works to prevent the public from learning something about government operations, that refusing to release information or attempting to alter or destroy documents or data can lead to constitutional crisis and even the demise of the state.

This time, the White House pressured the CIA to heavily redact an editorial going over the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, meetings, and communications over the past six years to argue for limited engagement now on Iraq. The CIA originally had cleared the op-ed for publication as written, finding nothing classified in it. Data and information came from news reports, the State Department web site, and a publicly available think tank report.

But both Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have said emphatically “NO” to discussions with Iran on stabilizing Iraq. Apparently, they now wish to hide the extent to which the administration has had exchanges with Tehran. The question is why?

In case you cannot access the op-ed by Ftynt Leverett and Hillary Mann on the New York Times website, it is available – redacted – on Truthout at

Happy redacted reading.


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