Kevin Drum is completely right. He's only talking about Tony Blair, but it applies to our guy too. If Bush and Blair really believe that the Downing Street Memos and other leaked items are being taken out of context and misconstrued, then they should have no problem with showing us the rest of the documents. All of them. I'm not talking about recent stuff or CIA top secret files, but just the standard kind of stuff that the Whitehouse bandies about. I mean, is it really probable that Whitehouse memos from two years ago could be so crucial to our national security? That they could give away critical information regarding Iraq and Bin Laden's whereabouts? Really? I doubt it.
If anything, it's more about saving face diplomatically and politically, than it is of critical anti-terror intel. I mean, really. What memo could we have about Bin Laden or whomever from 2002 that would give away our current plans? And they could still remove the names, cities, etc, without removing much else (assuming they can create the PDF properly).
If anything, knowing this kind of stuff might freak them out. Bin Laden might hear that one of his guys is an informant; but which one?! And is he already dead?! And would they really trust that we're telling the truth? That could certainly freak Osama out. And that goes for all those terrorist bastards. It's like a psy-ops mindfuck. The real problem is if we don't have a Bin Laden informant, and we'd just be letting him know that. Then again, he could never trust that we were being honest, so he'd probably ignore this all together.
So what we're really talking about are the down and dirty secrets. The diplomatic stuff. Perhaps we'd find out what the US gave to Pakistan and Libya and Syria and whoever, in exchange for their temporary aid and reforms. Those are the secrets they really want to hide. But aren't those things we really should know? We probably don't need to know the names, but shouldn't we know what we, the people, have been agreeing to? As a democracy, shouldn't we at least know what price we're really paying? Isn't that how it's supposed to work? How can we be an informed electorate if some of the most important things are kept secret from us? And the more important the secret, the more they get to keep it from us!
But that's not a democracy. That's crap. That's not how this is supposed to work. That's not what the contract says. And it's no good to us thirty years from now, assuming we could even get it then. We have a right to know this stuff now. President Bush is agreeing to things in our name. He's our employee. We have a right to know how the company's doing.
And we all know the real reason why Presidents don't like to release this stuff: It's political dynamite. We'd get access to everything, and really see how sketchy the basis for our poll-boosting terror alerts were. You know, the ones that made you a dirty traitor if you suggested they were for political reasons; though Ridge often didn't believe they were necessary and which seem to have stopped completely now that the election is over. Oh, and don't forget the big hubbub days before the election, when Bin Laden released a tape which MEMRI and Fox News pimped as a threat to all states which voted for Bush; an interpretation that the lovable Juan Cole thoroughly rejected. Maybe MEMRI was right about that threat, but Osama was full of shit about attacking. Or more likely, it wasn't Osama who was full of shit. Wouldn't it be interesting to hear some memo stuff on that?
Anyway, I made the mistake of starting this post shortly before The Daily Show started, and even though it was a rerun, I watched it and some other stuff, and now I've lost my steam. So I'll just end it here. Oh yeah, I've re-read over this post, and realize my mistake. If such memos ever existed, they certainly don't now. That's the very kind of stuff that shredders were invented for. C'est la vie.
Oh, and I forget to tie-in the title of the post into the actual post. I was just thinking that the reason Bush and Blair would rather complain about misconstrued context, rather than releasing more memos which provide that supposedly missing context, was because they are damn dirty cowards. It's not national security. It's to avoid national scandal. Maybe someday when I'm some fancy politician or even president (if you're lucky), I'll want to keep all my old memos and whatnot private; but I certainly hope not. It's a lot easier to shout about accountability and open government when you're on the outside looking in. But it really shouldn't be hard at all. If the people shouldn't know something, then maybe you shouldn't have done it. That's the basis for true democracy, and it needs to be applied now.