“Everything Secret Degenerates”
Everyone knows Lord Acton’s famous quote:
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
But few have heard this equally profound quote from Lord Acton:
Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
Likewise, US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said:
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.
But government secrecy is at an all-time high. Government is more hostile to the press than ever before.
The government prosecutes cases based upon “secret evidence” that they don’t show to the defendant … or sometimes even the judge hearing the case.
Government is “laundering” information gained through mass surveillance through other agencies, with an agreement that the agencies will “recreate” the evidence in a “parallel construction” … so the original source of the evidence is kept secret from the defendant, defense attorneys and the judge. A former top NSA official says that this is the opposite of following the Fourth Amendment, but is a “totalitarian process” which shows that we’re in a “police state”.
The government uses “secret evidence” to spy on Americans, prosecute leaking or terrorism charges (even against U.S. soldiers) and even assassinate people. And see this and this.
Secret witnesses are being used in some cases. And sometimes lawyers are being prevented from reading their own briefs.
A neocon “advocacy” group [was] immunized from the law, because the U.S. government waltzed into court, met privately with the judge, and whispered in secret that he had better dismiss all claims against that group lest he harm national security …
American citizens are also being detained in Guantanamo-like conditions in Chicago … including being held in secret, with the government refusing to tell a suspect’s lawyer whether his client is being held. And see this, this and this.
The Department of Defense has also made it a secret – even from Congress – as to the identity of the main enemies of the United States.
Indeed, even the laws themselves are now starting to be kept secret. And – unless we rise up from our slumber and say “Hell, No!” – it’s about to get a lot worse.
Sounds a tad familiar.
Postscript: The flip side of extreme secrecy by our government is mass surveillance on all citizens. After all, power freaks want to hide what they’re doing, while at the same time knowing what everyone else is doing.