Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 30, 2012

Secrets                            8/30/2012

As we digest the twists and turns surrounding the matter of US secrets and the people who have made some of them public, we might remember the men who framed the Bill of Rights and the philosophy they enshrined in it.  The devotees of the Enlightenment, like Jefferson and Madison, held that an indispensible feature of any democracy must be that the People know what the government is doing in their name, so as to hold them accountable for it at the ballot box.  By contrast, the Fourth Amendment guaranteed them privacy in their actions, except for the times when there was reasonable cause to belief that they were violating the laws. These two ways of dealing with secrets were intrinsic parts of their framing of the responsibilities that the democratic state and its people owed each other. When Wikileaks told all who were interested about the lies our government told the world about why we were about to go to war in Iraq, Americans ignorant of Enlightenment philosophy screamed for blood, with many crying out for foreigners involved to be captured and tried for treason, a capital offense. But when Hillary, who had stood first in her class at Yale Law School, joined the jackals, I was glad that I had not chosen to ride her bandwagon. What greater function for subtle higher education than to tame the blood-lust of those who imagine that the privileges of their faction is more important than the duties that advanced thinking lays upon learned people in supporting democracy?

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