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  1. #1
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    The public's right to know...

    Smoking Gun
    Dick Cheney's assault on the public's right to know.

    By Jacob Weisberg
    Posted Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006


    The Bush administration's aversion to openness reached the proportions of parody last weekend, when Dick Cheney shot a man in the face with a shotgun while hunting for quail in Texas. The White House revealed nothing about the accident when it occurred, and it's entirely possible that this near-manslaughter would have gone unreported had the host of the shooting party not spoken to a local reporter about the incident a day later.

    Must one really argue the case that when the vice president of the United States shoots someone—intentionally or unintentionally, fatally or otherwise—that the public has a right to hear about it? It's true that there is historical precedent for Cheney's attempted cover-up. When Vice President Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804, Burr's second used an umbrella to obscure the wounded man from the view of potential witnesses. Burr went home and mentioned nothing to his luncheon guest about what had happened that morning. After Hamilton died, a public cry went up and Burr fled to an undisclosed location in Georgia.

    A somewhat stronger American tradition, however, suggests that high officials are obliged to inform the public not just about the rare violent encounter, but also about their financial interests and the condition of their health, and above all about the workings of the government. In this regard, Cheney's role model appears to be not Burr, but the belligerent and contemptuous Spiro Agnew. Even before Sept. 11 provided an all-purpose excuse for his subterranean instincts, Cheney, like the president he serves, had made clear his 28-gauge disdain for the kind of disclosure and freedom of information that democracy demand.

    Like the right to privacy and the separation of church and state, the public's "right to know" is nowhere stated in the Constitution. But, like those other rights, access to information about the government was both assumed and implied by the Founding Fathers. For the right to elect leaders to have meaning, citizens have to be able to find out what the people they elect actually do in office. Similarly, the right to criticize the government presumes having something to criticize other than government secrecy.

    From the earliest years of the republic, an unprecedented degree of openness and disclosure were distinguishing features of the American system. According to Sean Wilentz, the Princeton historian and author of the majestic new book The Rise of American Democracy, judicial hearings, state and federal legislative proceedings, and presidential papers were already being made accessible to the public in various ways as early as the 1790s. But not until just after World War II did the now-familiar phrases "freedom of information" and "the people's right to know" come into broad use.

    These ter.ms appear frequently in Cold War-era discussions of the balance between government openness and national security. It is impossible to read those half-century-old considerations of how a free society can protect itself without sacrificing its values and not experience a feeling of déj* vu. In 1956, for instance, the Coolidge Committee on Classified Information made recommendations to the secretary of defense about how to mitigate what it depicted as the related evils of excessive classification and government "leaks." The movement to provide greater public access to documents was codified in the 1966 Freedom of Information Act. In the post-Watergate era, the reach of FOIA was greatly extended and supplemented by a host of "sunshine" laws mandating public access to meetings. In the Internet age, the expectation of openness and the availability of documents have expanded further, even as Cheney and Bush have indulged their urge to purge.

    To be sure, every president has fenced with the press and Congress over access to information. But no modern administration other than Richard Nixon's has so vigorously and reflexively slashed away at legislative oversight and public scrutiny. Another episode, as shocking in its way as Cheney's suppressed shooting, is the administration's refusal to answer questions about the White House meetings of the notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff. This week, Time magazine finally got hold of some of the photos that the administration has been suppressing. One shows Abramoff lurking in the background as Bush pumps the hand of a since-indicted tribal chief whose Indian name means "black buffalo." White buffalo Karl Rove stands beside the president, blessing the encounter.

    This and other photographs of Abramoff and Bush are public property, taken by photographers who are salaried government employees. They raise no questions of national security or personal privacy. But the pictures are embarrassing to the president, and on that basis alone, Bush has refused to release them. At one of his rare press conferences, the president offered the rationale that if shared, the Abramoff photos would be used for "political purposes" by Democrats. I do not recall Bill Clinton resisting Republicans demands for details about his use of Lincoln bedroom for fund-raising on such a basis. On the same theory, Bush could refuse to open his mouth again in public ever again—which, come to think of it, has been pretty much Cheney's approach.

    When it comes to the content of the Abramoff meetings, as opposed to the snapshots, the White House could potentially make a serious argument for holding back details. In 2002, a federal court rejected the General Accounting Office's effort to pry into Cheney's secret meetings with oil and gas executives who helped him to formulate the administration's first-round energy policy. The theory behind the court's decision was that executive-branch officials must be able to receive unvarnished advice from whomever they wish. But in the Abramoff case, Bush aides have claimed that any White House meetings were policy-free grip-and-grin sessions.

    One could go on recounting the dozens of examples in which Bush and Cheney have spurned legitimate requests for information—from Congress, journalists, historians, and watchdog groups. In sum, these episodes represent more than the familiar tug and pull of the branches of government, mere hostility to the press, or the challenges to freedom in wartime. They are the arrogant expression of a deaf, imperial presidency that hears the phrase "the public's right to know" as the public's right to "No."

  2. #2
    umdkook Guest

    Re: The public's right to know...

    WHO THE HELL CARES THAT IT TOOK SOOOO LONG TO TELL THE MEDIA?????


    it was an accident, and if it wasnt great, one less a-hole in charge of us after he goes down, but we all know that is NOT what is gonna happen.


    anyways, this is sooo ridiculous its insane. who gives two ****s.
    next well be hearing why it took so long to hear that Bush hit a golf ball into a water hazard, thereby polluting the lake on teh golf course....jeez

  3. #3
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by umdkook
    WHO THE HELL CARES THAT IT TOOK SOOOO LONG TO TELL THE MEDIA?????


    it was an accident, and if it wasnt great, one less a-hole in charge of us after he goes down, but we all know that is NOT what is gonna happen.


    anyways, this is sooo ridiculous its insane. who gives two ****s.
    next well be hearing why it took so long to hear that Bush hit a golf ball into a water hazard, thereby polluting the lake on teh golf course....jeez
    That was only the catalyst for the story undkook. Read the story.

    Lady Mod

    And by the way, a lot of people seem to care that it took so long. Bush and Cheney lost more points in the polls again.

  4. #4
    umdkook Guest

    Re: The public's right to know...

    i understand that is what is happening, I JUST DONT UNDERSTAND WHY????

    its really just an excuse to play up to the fact that americans now are very eager for Administration controversy, and the media knows it.

    i really dont care about teh story, i was addressing teh original statement, and the statements that many people are saying.


    just more stupid people...

  5. #5
    umdkook Guest

    Re: The public's right to know...

    teh summary at the bottom of the article proves it, the media and the public are just waiting for an excuse to cause controversy with the administration

  6. #6
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by umdkook
    teh summary at the bottom of the article proves it, the media and the public are just waiting for an excuse to cause controversy with the administration

    I think the public is very fed up with an administration who cuts programs, takes away their civil liberties, breaks the laws, Lies, cheats and think they aren't accountable for their actions.

    The public is way beyond waiting. Controversy came to the public, the public didn't go out looking for it.

    Lady Mod

  7. #7
    umdkook Guest

    Re: The public's right to know...

    as i would hope you may have noticed, I am in no way defending the likes of Dick, but I am saying this is a total non-issue that the media has jumped all over becuase they know the audience is out there who would appreciate it....its much the same audience that went for Cindy Sheehans stuff, which i remember you were actually a big supporter of.
    i am attacking you or anything, i am merely just saying they know what kind of audience appreciates this crap, and its not me....regardless of how immoral i think it is that Dick is semi in charge of this nation...

  8. #8
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by umdkook
    as i would hope you may have noticed, I am in no way defending the likes of Dick, but I am saying this is a total non-issue that the media has jumped all over becuase they know the audience is out there who would appreciate it....its much the same audience that went for Cindy Sheehans stuff, which i remember you were actually a big supporter of.
    i am attacking you or anything, i am merely just saying they know what kind of audience appreciates this crap, and its not me....regardless of how immoral i think it is that Dick is semi in charge of this nation...
    This is not a non issue. Accident or not, if anyone else had gone to these lengths to stall a report they would be sitting in jail for failure to report a crime. There were guns involved umdchuck. I don't know how things are done where you live but in Texas, gun accidents are always investigated right away. And the first thing that would have been determined was if there was alcohol involved.

    I didn't study to become a paralegal just so I could remain ignorant of the law or look the other way when a crime is committed. That whole incident reeks of coverup.

    Lady Mod

  9. #9
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    This is not a non issue. Accident or not, if anyone else had gone to these lengths to stall a report they would be sitting in jail for failure to report a crime. There were guns involved umdchuck. I don't know how things are done where you live but in Texas, gun accidents are always investigated right away. And the first thing that would have been determined was if there was alcohol involved.

    I didn't study to become a paralegal just so I could remain ignorant of the law or look the other way when a crime is committed. That whole incident reeks of coverup.

    Lady Mod
    It's not all bad news. At least Cheney shot a Republican lawyer. Always a silver lining in a BushCo Crime.
    Last edited by dante; 02-16-2006 at 03:26 PM.

  10. #10
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by dante
    It's not all bad news. At least Cheney shot a Republican lawyer. Always a silver lining in a BushCo Crime.
    LOL, no one can ever accuse you of only looking on the negative side of things. You always seem to find a silver lining in every cloud. ;)

    Namaste'

    Lady Mod

  11. #11
    umdkook Guest

    Re: The public's right to know...

    gun accidents taken seriously in Texas??? you dont say.....

    i still think its a non issue, and saying it is a "cover up" is, in my opinion, just another attempt to expose the skeletons in the Bush gangs closet, and a seemingly large closet it just might be.

    what is the crime that he committed?? bad aim?? is it illegal to hunt while intoxicated??? what crime was committed??

  12. #12
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by umdkook
    gun accidents taken seriously in Texas??? you dont say.....

    i still think its a non issue, and saying it is a "cover up" is, in my opinion, just another attempt to expose the skeletons in the Bush gangs closet, and a seemingly large closet it just might be.

    what is the crime that he committed?? bad aim?? is it illegal to hunt while intoxicated??? what crime was committed??
    Well, now.. We may never really know, will we? There's a little inscription over the main entrance to the Supreme Court. It reads: "Equal Justice Under The Law". And when it comes to conduct of The Bush Crime Syndicate, those words have always been a non-issue. In Bush's World, accountability is never a factor.
    Last edited by dante; 02-16-2006 at 06:56 PM.

  13. #13
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by dante
    Well, now.. We may never really know, will we? There's a little inscription over the main entrance to the Supreme Court. It reads: "Equal Justice Under The Law". And when it comes to conduct of The Bush Crime Syndicate, those words have always been a non-issue. In Bush's World, accountability is never a factor.
    Cover ups, lawlessness, racism, sexism, and oath breaking are only okay if they are being done by a democrat.

  14. #14
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by Samael
    Cover ups, lawlessness, racism, sexism, and oath breaking are only okay if they are being done by a democrat.

    Since when? In light of the current administration who has displayed all these traits I find your remark rather at odds with the truth.


    Lady Mod

  15. #15
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    That was only the catalyst for the story undkook. Read the story.

    Lady Mod

    And by the way, a lot of people seem to care that it took so long. Bush and Cheney lost more points in the polls again.

    EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is about discrediting and destroying the Bush administration...

    NOTHING MORE!

    It was a ****ing accident... Nothing more... But that won't cut it with the democrats and their loyal media. They MUST DESTROY BUSH and they will say and do anything to accomplish this goal.

    Every one of you jack-asses fueling and supporting this NON story are morally lacking liars, and need to take a good look in the mirror sometime. Especially if you have children. It is one thing to be an adult that chooses to put "Red and Blue" ahead of "right and wrong", "Good and Bad" and "Honesty and Dishonesty" as you continuously do, but quite another if this is the moral fiber you are instilling in your children by your despicable behavior.

    Grow the **** up and get a platform that helps this country instead of trying to tear it apart!

    .

  16. #16
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    Re: The public's right to know...

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim17
    EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is about discrediting and destroying the Bush administration...

    NOTHING MORE!

    It was a ****ing accident... Nothing more... But that won't cut it with the democrats and their loyal media. They MUST DESTROY BUSH and they will say and do anything to accomplish this goal.

    Every one of you jack-asses fueling and supporting this NON story are morally lacking liars, and need to take a good look in the mirror sometime. Especially if you have children. It is one thing to be an adult that chooses to put "Red and Blue" ahead of "right and wrong", "Good and Bad" and "Honesty and Dishonesty" as you continuously do, but quite another if this is the moral fiber you are instilling in your children by your despicable behavior.

    Grow the **** up and get a platform that helps this country instead of trying to tear it apart!

    .
    It's pretty telling of the state of your delusion if you consider the Vice President accidentally shooting a 78 year old man in the face a "NON story".

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