The Need For Transparency

 

“Transparency is not about restoring trust in institutions. Transparency is the politics of managing mistrust.” – Ivan Krastev

There used to be a time when we knew a political scandal when we saw it. Today, not so much. It is not just the media that seems to be having difficulty “understanding” what constitutes a scandal, it is the public as well. The one thing we do know about scandals is they metastasize in the dark, away from the light, when all of our institutions lack an honest commitment to transparency. Without transparency, the people will lose faith in our constitutional-republic. For those who missed it, this is what this election is all about.

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, a Department of Defense employee, secretly leaked the Pentagon Papers that, according to The New York Times (during its initial reporting), demonstrated that President Johnson’s administration “systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress,” and the American military was “secretly” bombing Laos and Cambodia. There was no email in 1971 as we know it, so Ellsberg had to copy each page one by one, on one of the clunky copy machines of the day. Ellsberg hand-delivered the copies to The New York Times, for which the paper would eventually be awarded the Pulitzer Prize (which almost did not happen, because of the controversial nature of the content).

For its part, the federal government tried to stop The New York Times from publishing the story. The New York Times would eventually win at the U.S. Supreme Court. The papers were stolen, and Ellsberg was charged with espionage (which was later dropped). However, the Supreme Court sided with The New York Times, affirming the sanctity of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. These factors alone would be more than enough to make it one of the most important political scandals ever exposed by the media. But there’s more.

The federal inquiry into Ellsberg’s actions led the investigators to an interesting development. The federal investigators discovered President Nixon had ordered a group of henchmen, known as the “White House Plumbers,” to dig up dirt on Ellsberg to discredit him. The “Plumbers” would deliver onto this country the granddaddy of all modern political scandals, Watergate. The attempted cover-up that followed would destroy a president and rock our nation’s faith in our government.

Watergate would reveal a host of dirty tricks Nixon and his team used not only to govern, but in winning elections. Slush funds, the Canuck Letter (forged letter, sent to the Union Leader), bugging Democrats, and the creation of an “enemies list.” Richard Nixon must be rolling over in his grave watching how the Clinton server and email scandals are being handled.

What some of these emails demonstrate is that Clinton, along with many of her subordinates, are ethically challenged. Contrary to what some would say, these emails do not show Clinton as a crafty, competent and skilled campaigner, but a campaign and a political party willing to connive, collude and violate party rules to defeat one of their own in the primary (Bernie Sanders). As of right now there is no indication any laws were broken, but the Clinton campaign employed their own dirty tricks and cheated to win.

Other emails show ethical lines were crossed regarding Hillary Clinton’s many interests. CNN reported that the John Podesta emails show many were “vexed” and “uncomfortable” with the overlapping interest and blurred lines of the Clintons’ financial endeavors, the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary Clinton’s State Department. The fact that several of Hillary Clinton’s advisers either actively “worked” for each entity, or had a crossing relationship, shows a serious disregard of ethical boundaries (Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin and Doug Band).

The Clintons attract scandal not because of “some vast-right wing conspiracy,” but because of their own actions and that will never change. At this writing, the FBI announced it is once again investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails. With about a week left before we vote, we are faced with a continuing Clinton scandal, which if she were elected, will follow her into the White House. The scandals will bring to a screeching halt any plans she had not only her first 100 days, but most of her entire term. Is this what America really needs or wants?

There are those that believe we should not be reporting on emails because they were stolen. This is ridiculous. I fully understand much of the content from Clinton’s server, the Democratic National Committee servers and John Podesta’s emails were illegally obtained, as were the Pentagon Papers. Although the Pentagon Papers and these most recent Clinton scandals vary in focus, the underlying truth is the same; that without transparency, we would have a government without integrity. To quote the current occupant of the White House, “A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.” These words are true, even if many in this country are willing to ignore them.

I encourage each of you to find out for yourself whether you believe a Clinton White House would be transparent, or will it be “business as usual” at http://tinyurl.com/clintonmess.

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