Thursday, November 04, 2004

Secrecy in the Bush administration

The House Committee on Government Reform - Minority Office, headed by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), released a report last September on secrecy in the Bush administration. The report finds that there has been "a consistent pattern in the Administration's actions: laws that are designed to promote public access to information have been undermined, while laws that authorize the government to withhold information or to operate in secret have repeatedly been expanded."

In the New York Times, Nov. 1, editorial observer Dorothy Samuels commented on the report:

The report lists many other troubling examples as well. Mr. Bush and his appointees have routinely impeded Congress's constitutionally prescribed oversight role by denying reasonable requests from senior members of Congressional committees for basic information. They forced a court fight over access to the Commerce Department's corrected census counts, for instance, withheld material relating to the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib and stonewalled attempts to collect information on meetings and phone conversations between Karl Rove, the presidential adviser, and executives of firms in which he owned stock. The administration has also taken to treating as top secret documents previously available under the Freedom of Information Act - going so far as to reverse the landmark act's presumption in favor of disclosure and to encourage agencies to withhold a broad, hazily defined universe of "sensitive but unclassified" information.

Under a phony banner of national security, Mr. Bush has reversed reasonable steps by the Clinton administration to narrow the government's capacity to classify documents. Aside from being extremely expensive, the predictably steep recent increase in decisions to classify information runs starkly counter to recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission geared to strengthening oversight of the intelligence agencies.

Not one for self-criticism - or any kind of criticism, for that matter - President Bush says he's content to leave it to historians to assess his presidential legacy. What he fails to mention is that he has seriously impeded that historical review by issuing a 2001 executive order repealing the presumption of public access to presidential papers embedded in the 1978 Presidential Records Act.


Blogger Robert said...

Do you really want to know what he is doing? Ignorance is bliss, and maybe... just maybe, if I keep my eyes shut really tight I can be happy for the next 4 years.

6:21 PM  

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