Bush's Fetish for Secrecy

Even in the midst of his invasion of Iraq, George W took time to deal with one domestic matter that is dear to his heart: Creating more secrecy in the executive branch of government.

On the night of March 25th, with none of the usual presidential fanfare and photo-ops that usually accompany a major policy announcement, Bush issued a 10,000 word executive decree that: (One) gives the government more discretion to keep information secret indefinitely, as long as they say it's for "national security;" (Two) for the first time, gives the vice-president power to classify government information as secret; (Three) treats all material sent to American officials by foreign govenments -- no matter how routine -- as secret; (Four) expands the ability of the CIA to keep its records secret; and (Five) delays the release of old presidential records that would have been declassified automatically after 25 years.

Of course, in issuing his order for more secrecy, Bush used his usual, deceptive tactic of declaring one thing while doing the opposite. In the formal statement introducing the decree, George claimed that he was acting to make government more open, even as he was locking it down: "Our nation's progress depends on the free flow of information," he declared, apparently hoping that such high-minded rhetoric at the top would deter anyone from reading deeper into this insidious document.

Like autocrats everywhere, the Bushites are haughty executives, who don't want anyone questioning their actions, so they rountinely try to hide public records from the public -- ranging from names of corporate executives that Dick Cheney met with in designing Bush's energy policy to John Ashcroft's directive to all agencies instructing them to fight freedom-of-information requests from We the People.

To battle Bush's anti-democratic lock-down, contact the Project on Government Secrecy of the Federation of American Scientists at www.fas.org.

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