Friday, September 22, 2006

Four out of Five Dictators Recommend It

The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy; the best weapon of a democracy is openness.
--Edvard Teller
It has been suggested that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people should have the same right to privacy as those people of whom it is composed. This has specifically been used as an argument for government secrecy with regard to national security.

The government, however, is not a man, nor a woman, nor an individual of any kind. Government is a system of powers and responsibilities imbued on an individual or individuals. In the case of a democratic republic like the United States, they are imbued on citizens (who run for office), by citizens (who vote for them), for citizens (specifically their constituents, whose will they are elected to represent). The individuals of whom the government is comprised have a right to privacy in their capacity as individuals, but the government, which is comprised of people acting in the capacity of that system, has no such right. The powers and responsibilities imbued on the members of a government belong to those who imbue them, and those individuals have the right to know how they are being used. The people cannot be expected to imbue that power without as much knowledge as possible about how that imbuement (is that a word?) has been and will be used.

Sexual acts involving a consenting, adult intern and a cigar, however unethical anyone may find them, are no more the public's business when when they are committed by the president than they are when they are committed by the pizza delivery guy, but every law passed or executive order handed down must be a matter of public record. We cannot stand for a government that can abuse our trust by violating our constitutional rights and the Geneva Conventions and try to hide it from us.

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