Openness In Government Is Disaster For Criminals & Most Politicians

In today's local paper two stories caught my attention.  One is that Congressman Boehner is calling for a committee with subpoena power to investigate Benghazi because Obama will not turn over emails that might explain what happened.

The other story is that California will not release the costs of setting up an insurance exchange required for Obamacare.

An ongoing story is that Attorney Holder has refused to honor a Congressional subpoena for documents concerning Fast and Furious.

We are used to government refusing to answer. We shouldn't be.

Citizens have a right to know what their elected representatives are doing and how they are spending tax dollars.  Beyond that, the culture of secrecy, as it relates to government, can serve only to cover wrongdoing.  Why else be secret?

The old canard that secrecy is needed for national security may be true for 2% of the cases in which it is raised.  My view is that the nation is much safer if our allies and our enemies alike know what we are and are not doing.  Obviously, we don't give away our scientific secrets, but that has nothing to do with being open about whether we have certain capabilities and intentions.

In the case of Benghazi, it is possible that well-meaning people made mistakes in judgment in an emergency.  No problem with that.  But it is also possible that Obama, working through Clinton, ordered the lie about Islamic militants, in order to protect his slogan, weeks before the election, that Osama bin Laden is dead and Al Quaida is on the run.  We have the right to know which it is.

In the case of California's setting up insurance exchanges, the public has the right to know what it costs.  Maybe Obamacare is not going to save money.  Isn't that what was promised?

In the case of Fast and Furious, why withhold subpoenaed materials unless they will reveal the likely: that Obama and Holder saw their scheme  -  before it backfired  -   as an opportunity to demonize guns by arguing that they migrate to criminals, and therefore should be banned.  Why stonewall the subpoenas if this is not the case? 

Secrecy in government, and probably in life generally, doesn't work.  Correctly, it raises suspicions, and if these suspicions are never addressed and always avoided, the person who is suspicious gradually gives up, usually in anger and frustration.

That is what has happened to us as voters.  We are forced to stand down as one government official and agency after another stonewalls legitimate inquiry.  Gradually, because we don't know what else to do, we begin to accept both the secrecy and the likelihood that we will never be given an answer.  But while we may accept it, we are, nonetheless, resentful.  That is why Congressional approval rests at 13%, just ahead of hitting your thumb with a five-pound sledge.

Here's the bottom line.  Openness is nothing to be afraid of for people are doing, or trying to do, the right thing.  It is a disaster for criminals and most politicians.

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About William Lafferty
William Lafferty is a retired lawyer. He retired from the position of staff attorney for the Pennsylvania supreme court. He also worked as a part-time instructor at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin and a j.d. degree from Duquesne University. He is also a writer of novels which you can find at his site.