"Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.” — Lord Acton
Barack Obama campaigned for president promising to usher in an era of transparency in government. That promise stands next to you “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” in the Barack Obama Presidential Hall of Shame.
One of the most egregious examples of President Obama’s duplicity is the way he and his administration have responded to the roster of revelations that have come from the leaks of documents defining the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency (NSA).
Not only has the president been called out on his support of secrecy at home, but leaders around the globe have turned on him, as well, after learning that American snoops have been monitoring their phone calls for years.
Then there is the bugging of the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other organizations by none other than the NSA. This is germane to the secrecy analysis because the NSA is part of the Executive Branch and the head of that branch is Barack Obama.
Anita Kumar, writing for McClatchy Newspapers, points out the criticism the president has faced after his 180 on openness.
As criticism swelled at home and abroad, Obama said the nation should examine how the government can strike a balance between national security and privacy concerns. He said at an August news conference that Americans will resolve any disagreements about the NSA programs through “vigorous public debate.”
But what started out as a national examination largely turned into a private review with few public meetings, little document disclosure and next to no public debate, say some lawmakers, technology organizations and civil liberties groups. And now, as those behind-the-scenes reviews begin to wind down, Obama is not providing details of the results.
“As part of the overall review of our intelligence-gathering practices, decisions are being made by the president and implemented by the president, but beyond that, I have to ask you to wait until the reviews, the various reviews have been completed and we have more to say,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
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Photo of President Obama: AP Images