The idea of secrecy and subterfuge seems to go hand in hand with the air of politics in today’s world. Secret deals forged between corporations and senators, with favorable laws backed and implemented in exchange payment in the form of hefty superpak campaign donations; hidden military operations pulled off largely without the public’s knowledge, and things of a more cloak and dagger nature.
It would then seem ironic then how often the 1st Amendment and the Freedom of Information Act are brought up in today’s political climate, considering the vast crackdown’s on investigative journalism even in America today. But how much information is too much information? Where is that line that separates the need-to-know from the dangerous-to-know? One might recall the actions taken by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the Military documents that were released via and informant within the United States Army. These documents reveled startling information about out countries actions and motives in the Middle East, but at the same time revealed the names of our tribal allies amongst the villages and cities of Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond, possibly putting them into harms way. This brings up a stark contrast to what we the people may believe to be our entitled right to know what our Government is up too, but what if that information places others into harms way?
It is often the excuse of politicians to keep relevant sensitive information in the dark towards the public in the “interest of safety”, and as would be expected many times the true motive behind things is simply to prevent any embarrassing or disenfranchising information about any given politician from reaching the public. Mitt Romney’s now infamous “47%” comment is a good example of this. Whether or not the information is truly relevant to the public it places the former governor in a bad light and as thus was something the Romney camp would have rather kept out of the spotlight. A more destructive example would be the backlash against the offensive Independent movie about Islam that was used as a spark for the US Embassy attacks in Benghazi. The creator of the film is currently in hiding with news agents from nearly every agency trying to get more information about him to the public. With the current outrage over his film, how safe do you think he’ll be with his personal contact information released to the public, this is a clear threat to his personal safety and that should be kept in mind? His film, while offensive, was an article of free speech, and now conversely he is trying to keep himself and his information away from the public.
In a sense we as a people have almost been groomed to have a desire to dig a little deeper into a story, find out what secrets our Government is hiding from us, and make that information known to all. While I accept and agree with this, especially in terms of political campaign finance and tax laws, I do believe that there are situations in which our desire to know the full, unfiltered, truth can cause more harm than good.