Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free records and national security

One of the big strategic agenda items of President Obama was to make government more transparent. One of the ways government is more transparent is by making more records of its actions accessible to the public. Of course, government always has to balance our national security against the public’s desire to know more. More about that in a minute.
The New York Times covered the story of the Justice department’s 4 year attempt to keep a 600 page report about US governmental post war collaboration with certain Nazi’s and invitations for Nazis to come to America. The report has been written for a long time but not made public or even disclosed. So someone apparently sued to get access to the report which was eventually made available in highly redacted (blacked out) form.
As the WWII has been over for more than a half century, it seems rather questionable that there can be anything of a “national security” interest still in the document that requires protection. No doubt there is tons of stuff that is embarrassing, but I don’t think that is criteria for keeping something secret.
Anyway, if our government’s invited former Nazi’s military leadership here to run missile programs or help with other military initiatives, then “transparent government” may dictate such information is disclosed, absent real national security interest requiring protection.
But this American says, if transparency is the desired result, absent real national security interest, then let the records be free.

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