Secrecy and democracy don't mixSecrecy and democracy don't mix. Democracy cannot function fully if the public is not well informed.
While most of America was focused on the war last week, President Bush quietly signed an executive order that extends government secrecy on a broad front.
According to The New York Times, the secrecy order "delays by three years the release of declassified government documents dating from 1978 or earlier. It treats all material sent to American officials from foreign governments - no matter how routine - as subject to classification.
"It expands the ability of the Central Intelligence Agency to shield documents from declassification. And for the first time, it gives the vice president the power to classify information. Offering that power to Vice President Dick Cheney, who has shown indifference to the public's right to know what is going on inside the executive branch, seems a particularly worrying development."
From the most local to the most national, the tension between secrecy and openness never goes away. Those who are elected to office or those who are hired to run government agencies, too easily get the idea that it is their private preserve.
It is always suspicious when a government official hides information from public view, whether in city hall, the county court house, state capitol or the White House.
Bush's obsession with secrecy does not serve us well. It is an alarming characteristic of this presidency.