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Monday, December 05, 2005

Bush Critics Forget Big Govt Breeds Big Secrecy

Is the Bush administration going too far in classifying government documents and other information that federal bureacrats and other government officials think might be useful to terrorists seeking to kill Americans in America or elsewhere?

Congressional Quarterly is known for publishing comprehensive research studies of major issues facing Congress and the latest in the series is "Government Secrecy: Is Too Much Information Kept From the Public."

Such reports are typically available only by subscription but, because I contributed a short essay to the report, CQ has allowed me to post a link to it for a month on the web site of The Heritage Foundation's Center for Media and Public Policy.

The CQ report documents the claims of critics who say the Bush White House does go too far, as well as the response from the administration to such critics and provides views and analyses from numerous experts outside government.

My small contribution to the CQ report is the "No" part of a pro-con view of the title question. Rick Blum, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org has the "Yes" essay.

My essential point is that critics are presently forgetting that today's alarming consequences of Big Government are a product of public policy decisions made during the Great Society era when federal programs were created to fight the War on Poverty and take action on other social issues.

Not surprisingly, those Great Society programs and the many more they spawned in succeeding decades have proven to be costly, inefficient and intrusive:

"'There is too much secrecy in government. Bush is classifying too much. The public's right to know is being violated every day. The White House is encouraging a culture of secrecy in government. Civil liberties are no longer safe in America.' Etc. Etc. Etc.
There is truth to these criticisms, though less than extreme critics claim.
But I must respectfully ask the critics: You expected something different from Leviathan?
Bush's critics forget that with Big Government always comes Big Secrecy. Sooner or later, those who seek an easing of secrecy, less over-cautious classification and fewer intrusions on civil liberties must decide if those goals are more important than maintaining the sprawling, intrusive, ever-growing monstrosity we know as the federal government."

You can read the entirety of the exchange between Rick and I, as well as the balance of the CQ report here. I am confident that even those who actively follow these issues will find useful information they were not aware of prior to reading the report.