Saturday, December 22, 2007

Devil In A Red Dress

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had a plan to suspend the rules against illegal detention and arrest up to 12,000 Americans he suspected of being disloyal, according to a newly declassified document.

Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, less than two weeks after the Korean War began. But there is no evidence to suggest that President Truman or any subsequent president approved any part of Hoover’s proposal to house suspect Americans in military and federal prisons.

This plan is fifty seven years old, yet we learn about it today. Can anybody seriously argue that there was a justification for holding it secret this long other than shame? One of the reasons scoundrels like Hoover were brazen enough to dream such dreams is our governmental culture of secrecy.

The Bush administration was classifying fifteen million documents per year as it settled in. This past year it was at least twenty million, but likely much more. "The fourth branch of government" Dick Cheney has refused to co-operate with the Information Security Oversight Office. The amount of paper they stamp "Top Secret" itself is classified. A cowered congress and feckless press have done little to expose this abuse of secrecy.

Do we have to wait another fifty-seven years to declassify a Cheney memo that calls J. Edgar a visionary? I have been told the answer. But, it's classified.