Friday, May 22, 2009

A Refreshing Call for Openness from a Man Shrouded in Secrecy...

Dick Cheney wants transparency.

Finally, after eight years claiming executive privilege to prevent the release of key information, Dick Cheney wants full disclosure of certain memos surrounding the use of torture.

He's calling for such openness as a way to help President Obama make the right choices for defending our country.

As Dick Cheney himself says, "...whatever choices [President Obama] makes concerning the defense of this country, those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history."

Which is why Dick Cheney yesterday gave a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, an organization devoted to strengthening the foundations of freedom, so that he could truthfully share with us the history of the world as he sees it.

Of course, the AEI is the perfect place for Dick Cheney to have given this speech - if you look at their website, they proudly share their belief that the "competition of ideas is fundamental to a free society."

In his speech yesterday, Dick Cheney agreed that sharing information is a good thing:

"As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of [President Obama's] defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won’t let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I’ve formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security."

Dick Cheney wants to release more information to the public than the president who has called for greater transparency in government.

How's that for a surprise?!

Strange, though, that the man who's asking Obama for more information spent a great deal of time when vice president defending his privilege to keep his papers outside the realm of public scrutiny.

As vice president, Dick Cheney was involved in a squabbling match with the National Archives. As the LA Times reported in a 6/22/07 story:

"According to documents released Thursday by a House committee, Cheney's staff has blocked efforts by the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office to enforce a key component of the presidential order: a mandatory on-site inspection of the vice president's office."

Even before his dispute with the nation's records office - even before 9/11/01 - Dick Cheney decided that how public energy policy was developed needed to be kept a secret from the public.

It was a stance that led to a lawsuit with the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch, who, according to this story on CNN.com, wanted merely to know "whether lobbyists for the energy industry privately helped craft the U.S. government's long-term energy policy."

This was information Cheney felt was not fit for public consumption.

So in the call for the release of Cheney memos, let's indulge ourselves. Let's see who advised the vice president on the energy policy of the nation. Let's see those memos and emails he didn't want housed in the National Archives.

Let's give Dick Cheney what he wants - access to his important memos and documents that reveal just what we gained through the implementation of his policies and programs. Give us the opportunity to read what he wrote in an attempt to understand Dick Cheney's ideas on government, on energy, on the firing of eight federal judges, on Guantanamo, on torture.

Let's release the Cheney files because, as the AEI understands, the competition of ideas is essential for freedom - and Cheney's ideas have been held secret from the public for far too long.

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