NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 13, 2006

Ever since the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has made clear that government would operate in new ways to combat a dangerous threat. It would aggressively hunt down terrorists, using all of the tools at its disposal, carrying out many of its actions in secrecy.

In the ensuing years, explains USA Today, Americans have seen many examples, including:

  • A program that allows authorities to intercept electronic communications between people in the United States and people abroad.
  • A stepped up effort to punish government officials who leak information and to prosecute journalists who refuse to name these officials.
  • A network of foreign prisons about which virtually nothing is known, and an extreme reluctance to reveal any information about the detainees at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  • Sluggish response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for documents going back to before Sept. 11, 2001.
  • A policy of classifying more government documents than previous administrations and even reclassifying some that had been released to the public in recent years.

This greater secrecy is essential, the administration asserts, to avoid tipping off the very terrorists it is targeting. A nation at war has little choice but to sacrifice some openness in the name of greater security.

In an era when terrorists are actively trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, that is an argument many Americans are quick to accept. It also is sometimes right, says USA Today.

Source: Editorial, "Secrecy grows more common with war on terror as excuse; Need for some secrecy prompts administration to make it routine," USA Today, March 13, 2006.


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