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Secrecy is Destroying Democracy

[This is a column written for the West News by Friends of Peace member Boyce Vardiman.]

The six year long and troubling shroud of secrecy surrounding the Bush II administration could be nearing penetration -- by we the people. It can't happen too soon.

The obsession with secrecy began even before Vice President Cheney convened his commission to form a national energy policy. Yet the full extent of those sessions, even the names of the participants, has been denied to congress, and to the public for almost five years.

A near seamless stream of secrecy has followed:

* Even as it shamelessly played politics with the 9/11 tragedy, the Bush administration labored strenuously to hide why America was so unprepared.

* The secret plan to invade Iraq, no matter the questions, objections or warnings is still denied.

* Even the cost of Iraq, two hundred plus billion dollars and twenty five thousand military personnel killed, maimed and wounded is hidden as much as possible.

* There continues a torrent of denial, stonewalling, obfuscation and deceit about information the public has a right to know.

* Information has been denied the media, researchers, even congress.

An attack on working people and the middle class continues, secreted behind claims of "national security", warnings of terrorism and the "joys" of free trade. Jobs are exported by the million, family income slowly shrivels, and millions of citizens sink closer to poverty, even homelessness. Meanwhile the administration tries to keep quiet about the transfer of billions in wealth to the top 3% of our "elite" citizens.

There is that marvelously hidden secret efficiency and effectiveness of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Now we learn that the results of thousands of federal trials are being kept secret; despite sixth amendment guarantees of public trials. Add to that the imprisonment of hundreds at Guantanamo, the "disappearing" of "suspects" by rendition and the thousands in Iraqi prisons, often in total secrecy, most without charges or legal representation, and we have something closer to the former USSR than to American democracy and civil rights.

We woke a few weeks ago to discover that the Bush administration had illegally authorized domestic spying, (that*s spying on us, neighbors) years ago. The battle is now on between the administration*s once secret, now open, defiance, and those demanding that the FISA court be involved as provided by law.

There are "secrets" that the administration chooses not to talk about:

* That most Americans now have little to no economic or health security.

* That the 196 billion budget surplus left by the Clinton administration in 2000 is a 438 billion deficit in 2005.

* That American assets are being sold off, or bought up, by those nations holding our IOU's.

That famous bubble of secrecy burst in the last two weeks; as we learned that Dubai was set to buy operation of six of our major seaports! And that 80% of our ports are already operated by companies from other nations! The money we have borrowed, spent on energy, gasoline, diesel and goods, blown on a war of choice and refused to save, is now buying us out!

To top it all, we learned just over the weekend that the Bush administration is prepared (again in secret) to supply nuclear technology to India!

Finally, there is now the "open secret" of the dismay of our soldiers and marines in Iraq. Only 23% back the administration*s plan to "stay as long as needed". 72% favor withdrawal within a year, and 29% say they should come home immediately. All of this in a government that is supposed to be a democracy!