Government transparency and national security

transparencyWhere is the line drawn between government information being made public and the need for secrecy in the interest of national security? On one hand there is information that might pose a threat to U.S. citizens if it were obtained by some entity intent on harming America, but on the other hand there is the need for free flowing information between the people and the representatives they elect. One of the biggest issues America faces is the belief that the government is separate from the people. We see this in every aspect of politics from the campaigns to the carrying out of official business. The president is an elected representative, not a CEO or boss. Congress is not upper management, they are a collective representation of the voice of the people. They should be. What information, then, should be considered secret in the interest of national security?

Recent discussion over use of surveillance drones and military strikes with drones has spurred my interest in this topic. I recognize the need for military secrecy on the battlefield, but beyond that I question the need for so much secrecy. President Obama has made lip service to creating the most transparent administration in history. Is this happening? Do you feel informed? Do late night votes or “over the weekend” votes on bills in the House and Senate fill you with well-informed confidence? Do all out divided by party battles over the economy and health care make you feel that you are accurately represented in congress? Do you know what is in the USA Patriot Act or the National Defense Authorization Act?

In a government by the people, of the people and for the people there should never be a feeling of such distrust and suspicion between the people and the elected representatives. Thanks to partisan politics we are all so divided by bias and group-think bred allegiance to a way of thinking that we have embraced a terrible “us and them” mentality. A house divided against itself shall not stand (Matt. 12:25). The United States government was intended to be of the same house as the citizenry at large, it shouldn’t be a separate entity. Unfortunately it is a separate entity. When men and women become career politicians and hold office for 20 or more years they have separated themselves from the general population and have become part of the bureaucratic ruling entity. If this entity begins keeping secrets from its housemates, i.e. the public, then the house is in danger of falling.

Outside of military action I can’t think of what other information needs to be held so secretive. If our national focus was on building our nation rather than lining the pockets of the few (politicians, special interest groups and other dishonest, greedy individuals) there wouldn’t be situations where secrecy was needed. Or perhaps I’m just blind to what issues really exist that present danger to us. If our country is behaving appropriately and in accordance with law then what have we to hide?

Seriously though, if I’m missing something about transparency and national security, please let me know, leave a comment.

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About paulbrodie

I am a writer and a musician. My education is in psychology with emphasis in industrial/organizational psychology. My work experience has been primarily with electronic document management. Academically and intellectually I am interested in criminology and sociology. I am married to my favorite person in the world and we have one daughter.
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