Monday, February 27, 2006

This Secretive Administration

"Reveal not every secret you have to a friend, for how can you tell but that friend may hereafter become an enemy. And bring not all mischief you are able to upon an enemy, for he may one day become your friend." ~ Saadi

There's been a lot of speculation lately in regards to this administration's policy of secrecy. Many of President Bush's opponents are declaring that the Bush Administration is the most secretive of any administration in history.

They say that like it's a bad thing.

Hillary Clinton was quoted as saying words to that effect recently in the wake of the Dick Cheney non-issue involving his unfortunate hunting accident. Aside from the fact that as first lady, she was involved in quite a bit of secret behind the scenes shenanagins in her own right, it would seem to me that perhaps a little secrecy wouldn't be such a bad thing right now, in light of the fact that we are at war.

Yes, I know that the Democrats will be quick to point out that the war we are in currently is an undeclared war. That is a semantical point that could be argued ad infinitum. Democrats may say war was never declared, and Republicans can make the valid point that a declaration of war is implied when the Congress voted to authorize the use of force in the effort to subdue Saddam Hussein and by so doing, neutralize what can be argued to be a threat to the United States.

I don't intend to address that argument today.

Digression aside, my point is this: During any conflict between America and any combatants, whether uniformed or non-uniformed, secrecy is necessary in keeping the enemy unaware of what our future moves will be.



I made the point in a post some time back that there is truth in the adage, "Loose lips sink ships", which was a popular slogan during World war II. It means we shouldn't reveal anything to anybody anything that could, in any way, compromise the outcome or the execution of any armed conflict in which we happen to find ourselves involved.

Democrats will find themselves agreeing with that statement as long as we are talking about leaking the name of a CIA employee. And as long as the one who leaked the information was a Republican. In the Valerie Plame case, they are sticking to their story that a law was broken, even though it has been firmly established that Valerie Plame was not covert at the time of said "outing", and as such, could not have been outed. Non covert agents are not protected from being identified.

But where is the Democrats outrage at the leaking of secret information regarding how the security forces in our country go about the very important task of gathering intelligence information about known enemies? Enemies that have publicly stated their goal of killing every man, woman and child in the United States?

There are no Democrats calling for an investigation of how the New York Times came to have classified secret information about the NSA surveillance of enemy communications within and without the borders of the United States.

Not only is there no outrage, they have mounted an all out assault on the President for daring to try to use intelligence gathering in an attempt to protect this country from further 9/11 type attacks, or worse.

The only thing all this political shoving match during a time of war will get us is a very possible attack by our enemies. I can just see bin-Laden now, waiting until America's attention is diverted away from National security, as Republicans scramble to acquiesce to the Democrats incessant demands that we immediately cease and desist arrantly wiretapping, and put the program on hold long enough to appease the Democrats.

He might even be hoping to get all the Congress together in one place so he can bomb the Capitol, while the two parties are engaged in debating the importance of secret wiretaps, and whether it is legal to know in advance if we are going to be attacked again or not.

It just seems to me, that if we are allowed no more secrets, there may soon be no Americans left to worry about whether the Government is listening into their phone calls to Aunt Emma and Uncle Clyde.

I think secrecy is a good thing. What if we hadn't allowed our security forces to spy on Germany and Japan in World War II? What if we had declared the way we attained information about our enemies was illegal in World War I?

Do you realize that had it not been for a Union soldier fortuitously finding a secret plan that had been carelessly discarded by one of General Lee's aides, the Union may not have defeated the Confederacy in the war between the states?

What if some opportunistic political foe of the President had cried foul and pressured President Lincoln to ignore what the soldier had found, and even insisted in prosecuting the hapless snoop, because he obtained the document without first getting a warrant?

Perhaps this great country of ours would now be known as the Confederated States of America and we would still own slaves.

Now, project that same scenario, but with the added advantage of modern technology, into todays debates about secrecy in the Administration. Are President Bush's opponents absolutely sure they want full disclosure of what we are doing to protect this country?

Yes, I believe there is something to be said in favor of secrecy in matters of national security, and in some other things, as well.

I think there are just some things I don't need to know.

19 comments:

Sheila said...

On behalf of regular AMericans, who still watch a sane program like The News Hour with Jim Leher on PBS....I distinctly heard Jim Leher ask "Porter Goss" if this
leak was being investigated and his answer was, "Yes, Agressively".

Then I heard it on ABC News. Now I can't watch it all, so I think that's a pretty good sum.

As far as being mad at leaks? I was mad at the leak for Abu Graib until I saw some of the extent to which these people were going.

What amazes me Mark, is why no one on your side of the camp are asking "why" so many leakers in a Republican Administration?....

I worked for his father. Lots of loyalty in that administration.

Gotta go. Sorry to hit and run!

Erudite Redneck said...

"I think there are just some things I don't need to know."

Then you should be proud. Because what you don't know is a lot. :-)

Mark said...

That's a good question, Sheila. I don't know why. Perhaps we should discuss that.

Here's another question for you. Why is it when a republican is doing the leaking, the Democrats call him a whistle blower, but if the leak damages a Democrat politician, it is a leaker?

ER, your comments are becoming only personal attacks. You are better than that.

Dan Trabue said...

Aahhh, but it was a funny personal attack. So, at least there's that.

You said:
"secrecy is necessary in keeping the enemy unaware of what our future moves will be..."

And Bush has said that those who are not with him are against him, so I reckon that makes me his enemy (by his definition).

I don't want my enemies (Bush OR "terrorists") keeping secrets. And when that enemy is the leader of my Republic, well, then I feel it quite reasonable to ask for transparency.

I've said it before and I'll repeat it now: Some of us quite frankly do not trust this president or his cabal. There may be some things YOU don't need to know, but there are things that I and my ilk need to know.

Mark said...

Dan, I don't see it as funny at all. I see it as mean spirited and hateful. So much so, in fact, that it has become indistinquishable from Kevron's vitriole.

Erudite Redneck said...

LOL. Yer cracking me up, Mark. It was a payback. "And you know it." Now we're even.

And it was hee-larius.

Erudite Redneck said...

Do you know that I have never had a cross word with KEvron? Do you know why? Because I never slammed him, insulted him or otherwise provoked him. Unlike yourself.

KEvron's humor ain't all to my liking. So what? Some of his politics seems to be way out there. So what?

He suffers not fools gladly -- and that might be the problem. You dismiss him, rudely, because he makes you uncomfortable. He's like a pit bull -- or maybe a turtle; Once he latches onto weak flesh, he doedn't let go until it thunders.

Not that I'm defending everything, or even most, of what he's written. But he has demonstrated powers of reason and communication that often are lacking in this space.

whit said...

In a parallel universe, others see George Bush as the enemy and the administration as a cabal. That's funny to me because I remember feeling the same way about Ronald Reagan. When I got older, I realised what a fool I was. I let my hatred blind me. I could have fond memories now instead of regret about being a stupid kid.

Sheila said...

Hi Mark,

Back from work. Intersting question. Here's my take.

When I was with the B-41 adminsitration there were leaks....planned leaks that the press were expecting. It was a dance that has been going on since Eisenhower.

Marlin Fitzwater (press sectretary for reagan and Bush) was a wizard in the art of leaks and kept the press reasonably happy. It was a really good relationship until his son took over.

That Administration was so stars and stripes. So run with integrity and love for mankind and SR. was the one who insisted that it be so. Everything was on the up and up and open to the American people through the press. It was magic.

A whistle blower is someone I will always admire whether republican or democrat. There are quite a few of them in this Administration and BOY HOWDY....takes guts.

This whole government is in turmoil over the taking of the power for the presidency. That is why there are a hell of a lot of leaks instead of whistle blowers.

There are a LOT of people (republicans) who are very afraid for their families and their future if they take the high road.

Hope I haven't blah blad too much.

I've never seen Dems call a spade anymore than a spade when the kettle was actually black.

Sorry Sweetie, but I think your reading too many young nasty demhogs again and I think sometimes that your love afair with Rush Limbaugh clouds your reason when it comes to the REAL Liberals.

Have a great night Pal!

Mark said...

Oh My God! I do Not have a love affair with Rush Limbaugh! I don't even listen to more than the first hour of his show and usually less than that. I find his self aggrandizing a little too much to bear.

This post came directly out of my own peanut brain. Here is how the thinking process works:

After hearing Hillary repeat the same things that many other Democrats had already said, that is, how the Bush administration is the most secretive in history, I started thinking.

It occured to me that sometimes secrecy is a good thing, especially when National Security is concerned. And I set out to say just that, but the more I typed, the more words flowed from my keyboard.

I really didn't think I would have more than a paragraph to say on the subject, but since you and ER brought it up, let me say, one more time, That I don't use talk shows to get my ideas. I make it a point, consciously, not to listen to talk shows before I write a post. I want them to be my own idea, from my own unique perspective. I defy anyone to find a talk show host anywhere that has said a secretive administration is a good thing.

Case in point: You might notice that I have yet to make more than one post about the port thing, and the one I did post said basically, that I don't know what to think about that until we have more information.

For the record, I think Bush has made a collosal mistake in making a stand for this thing, especially when it appears that he doesn't have all the facts himself. It may turn out to be political suicide for the Republican party in '06.

Also for the record, I haven't been listening to radio talk shows at all today. I have been listening to New Grass Revival CD's. A great modern bluegrass band, for those of you who have never heard of them.

Sheila said...

Darn! LOL

All I did was pull your tail a little. I bow to the fact that you haven't mentioned Rush in a couple of months.

Now lighten up! it's only me.

Mark said...

Here is a tidbit of info for your perusal:

In a recent study, it was found that Rush Limbaugh, throughout the 17 years of his radio program, has been right 98.3% of the time. ASs in correct in his assessment of things that happen.

Dan Trabue said...

Hey, maybe we can find our common ground (so to speak) in the New Grass! I knew you had to have some good inside your ol' crusty soul, Mark!

Whit, I actually liked Reagan at first and had to grow up a bit to get past it. I don't hate Bush and my opposition to him is frankly because I think he and his sort (and Reagan before him) are a threat to the world.

I'm not speaking in hyperbole nor exaggerating my point. Nor am I calling Bush a monster and a Nazi. I simply think that his solutions threaten world peace and his policies are throwing gasoline on fire.

If that is the case and what some of us think of Bush, then the only responsible thing we can do is oppose him, right? And not only Bush, but Clinton when he was making horrible policy (NAFTA, for instance).

Don't minimize the debate by trying to write us off simply as those who hate Bush. It's just not reality.

rusty shakelford said...

Mark, all good examples of the double standard held by liberals. Dan however proved a point on my blog that liberals are not patriotic and should not be trusted with vital information about national security.

Jim said...

Mark,

There are secrets and there are secrets. One of the interesting things I learned in Howard Dean's "Worse than Watergatge" is that the current Bush adminstration is failing to release information from previous administrations which by law are to be released after 12 years. Let me repeat the phrase "by law." By law, presidential papers from the Reagan administration and the Bush 41 administration should have been released within 12 years of the end of those adminstrations. They have not been, and those seeking them through FOIA have been denied.

These papers have nothing to do with the "war on terror." They have to do with potentially embarassing acts by the previous administrations. I don't care if they are embarassing or not. BY LAW they are to be released.

There is so much information in the government today that IS NOT in any way security related that is NOT being released. Requests for that information is being denied. It is not security-related.

Jim said...

As to the "war", declared or otherwise, I cite the AUMF from the White House website:

(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.

If I'm not mistaken, there is no longer (if there ever was) a threat posed by Iraq. Furthermore, I believe that all relevant United Nations resolutions regarding Iraq have been enforced and satisfied.

Therefore, I submit that the authorization for the use of military force HAS EXPIRED. What say you?

Next: It has been suggested that information about the NSA program reported by the New York Times constitutes a leak of classified information. However, the fact that such a program exists isn't necessarily classified, so I'm not sure that secrets of national security were leaked. Are we to believe that terrorists don't suppose their phone calls are being monitored?

And isn't it interesting that those who have brought the existance of the program to light are former NSA officials who have concerns about the legality of the program?

There is quite a difference between revealing programs which may not be classified but which may be illegal and revealing the name of a covert agent [the CIA says the agent was covert and that US intelligence assets were compromised] in order to defend their questionable rationale for war.

It's an interesting and often-used tactic by the media and the right (eh, sometimes even the left) to take two different acts and make them equivalent. For instance, one driver drives 70 in a 65 mph zone, another driver runs a stop sign and kills a pedestrian. Both drivers violated the vehicle code, so the acts are equivalent.

Not so fast.

Jim said...

I can't stop. There has never been a Democrat who has criticized the means nor the targets nor the reasons for the president's and NSA's program. Never have, never will. The criticism is that the programs have been conducted OUTSIDE the rule of law. There is no reason why these programs couldn't be conducted within the law as it exists or within the law as it could be changed to accomodate the security needs of the nation.

I will repeat the mantra of the Republics from 8 years ago. "It's the RULE OF LAW, stupid." You, on the other hand, repeat the false argument that Democrats oppose these programs and want to obstruct those who provide our national security.

What this is is a blatant attempt by the administration to increase the power of the executive at the expense of congressional and judicial oversight. Read the history of Cheney and you will see his philosophy on a supreme executive. If you like that philosophy, would you have liked it when Clinton was in power or when the next Clinton is in power.

Sheila said...

By the way...as I yawn....

Secrecy IS a good thing and especially in a time of war. I think the leaks show me there are a lot of "Republican" patriots in this Administration. I suspect that they are not against the government, but torn by some very Unamerican doings.

Not necesarily Bush and Co at the top. But one starts to wonder how this could have gotten so out of hand.

Post note; I think the Port Deal will come to nothing. Dubai has so much interest and assets tied up in our country. including a million dollar donation to the Katrina Fund just one week ago.

Carlyle Group has millions tied up in UAE. I just think the deal will go through. I just don't understand how we got here. It's not Dubai that kills me.

It's all the rest. I had know idea we've outsourced sooooo much of our ports. I think leasing some is a matter of fact for good trade. But not 3/4's.

This is war. We should have MORE control of our ports. China practically owns Seattle and Los Angeles...

That said, this Dubai problem is only temperary. Congress will approve and the deal will go through.

Dan Trabue said...

Rusty said that I proved that liberals are not patriotic by what I wrote on his blog. I'm a bit confused. Here's part of what I wrote:

I love my country. I love her ideals. I love what she stands for. I love our freedom. I love our people.

And because I love my country, I get real irritated when someone abuses our name the way W has.

=====
Then I went over why we don't trust Bush. How is that unpatriotic?!

And Rusty, exactly what double standard are you referring to?