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"The Myth of Secrecy"

     The recriminations and breast-beating over the bungled Wen
Ho Lee case should instigate even deeper re-evaluation of the aims
and desires of the government of the U.S.  The phrase "national
security" needs to be examined very carefully and not used any
longer as a curtain behind which mindless blundering and evil
machinations can be hidden.
     The know-how involved in the making and delivering of
nuclear weapons should have been turned over to the United
Nations in 1945 and the use of such terrorist weapons renounced
sincerely, as detrimental to the security of the land and people
of this country and all countries.  The plan was proposed then,
and rejected by the U.S. government, without consulting the
people themselves.
     The result was the Cold War, with all the threatening
postures, and all the "police actions," which seriously menaced
the security of every man, woman and child on the planet. 
Secrecy was imposed on the horrific weaponry, and the general
population lived lives of remarkably quiet desperation, because
they didn't know and didn't really want to know what was actually
going on, how dangerous it was, how much suffering and death was
being unleashed and stored up to be unleashed later.
     Secrecy became part of the myth of the time.  Spy novels,
spy movies and real-life executions of supposed spies became
common.  We became so used to spying and lying about spying, that
the idea of secrecy itself became something no one dared
     The notion of our side's moral superiority was taken quite
for granted, even though the facts of the case made such a notion
utterly absurd.  Who is morally superior?  LBJ?  Nixon?  Reagan? 
Clinton?  Our side could do dastardly deeds, we thought, because
the other side did and we were the good ones, in the struggle of
good against evil.
     Now that the Cold War is over, and the Wen Ho Lee case is
out into the open, with the U.S. government badly humiliated in
the process, it is time to question the very idea of secrecy. 
What needs to be kept secret?  From whom?  There is no such thing
as secrecy which is really secret anyway.  The enemies know.  The
Sandinistas knew that the U.S. was supplying the Somocistas
directly, and let the world know by shooting down an American
civilian piloting a supply plane.  The Soviets knew that the U.S.
was spying on their country by high altitude fly-overs, and when
Ike denied it, they shot one down and displayed the marvelous U-2
technology and the pilot to all the world.  "There is nothing
secret that shall not be made known."
     For decades the real purpose of secrecy has been to hide
things from the American people.  Someone needs to hide the fact
of how much waste there really is, and how lethal it is.  Someone
needs to hide the blunders and misdeeds of government officials. 
They need to hide the truth about how dangerous they themselves
have made the world -- not rogue states like Libya, but rogue
policies of bombing civilians and calling it "collateral damage,"
and rogue pollution in our own suburbs, and calling things like
plutonium "safe."  The Rocky Flats jury was enjoined to secrecy
by the judge, not to protect weapons know-how, but to prevent the
people of Denver from finding out how bad the danger they are in
really is, which could cause panic and then a demand for change. 
     The government's frantic overstatements about how dangerous
Wen Ho Lee was to the security of the U.S. were an attempt to
preserve secrecy, and the very idea of secrecy itself.  But it no
longer works.  Any hacker can download anything.  "There is
nothing secret that shall not be made known."  
     Aware citizens of the world do not fear the rogue states as
much as they fear the massive military power of the U.S.  The
U.S. military budget is larger than those of the next ten largest
taken together.  Security, for us and for all, will come when
that is drastically changed, that is, reduced.  Security will
only come when everyone knows everything.  Fresh air truth will
do more good, for us and for all, than all the frantic and futile
attempts to reinstall secrecy, reclassifying everything, and
pretending that that makes us safer.
     The truth, that all people everywhere need to know, is that
the situation is dire.  Serious problems need serious attention,
but if we all work together on what really could be solutions,
instead of hiding so much of our ingenuity from others and
calling that "science," maybe we can stumble on some workable
plans, and find the courage to do what needs to be done.

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Copyright © 2000 Harry Willson

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