In less than 24 hours, a story that began with the disclosure that State Department employees were peeking into the passport records of Barack Obama, it has come to light that the snooping also extended to Hillary Clinton and John McCain. While there is still much that is unknown, these revelations are being treated by the victims as a serious breach of privacy and security.
The Bush administration has developed a reputation as the most secrecy obsessed administration in history. Over the past seven years they have:
- sought to withhold public records like those of Dick Cheney’s meetings with lobbyists
- reclassified thousands of documents that were previously available
- banned photos of military caskets being returned from Iraq
- thrown roadblocks in front of legislation to enhance the Freedom of Information Act
- opposed investigations into Iraq, 9/11, Katrina, wiretapping, intelligence failures, U.S. attorney firings, etc.
- instructed aides to defy Congressional subpoenas
In addition, Bush signed Executive Order 13233 which allows presidents, and former presidents, to restrict historians’ access to presidential records. And they have been pushing relentlessly for the right to access private records of American citizens without warrants.
Yet it is the Bush administration that has been leaking like a sieve when it comes to prejudicial (and often false) data about Iraq and terrorism. It is BushCo that outed Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative. And now it is the Bush State Department that has opened confidential files of presidential candidates to unauthorized persons and, at this time, has no idea whether the stolen data has been disseminated to others. How can we possibly trust them with any personal data or permit them to bypass legal requirements for access to it?
These are the actions of a corrupt enterprise that puts information for which there is a legitimate public interest behind lock and key, while surreptitiously publishing information for which it can realize a propaganda benefit. It is shameful behavior that must be investigated, punished, and prohibited in the future.