“That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.” This is a motto that I’ve come to live by. I believe that the only time a lie can even possibly be considered the “right thing” is if you’re sparing the feelings of someone you care about, and I think we should all avoid lying as much as we possibly can even in those circumstances. At any level outside of that, though, if lies are necessary in order for you to accomplish what you want to accomplish, then you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.
The only secrets I believe our government should keep from us are the secrets that put people in immediate danger, such as the location of secret personnel. Everything else, with very few exceptions, should be made known to the public.
As we’ve seen with the leaks from Edward Snowden, Wikileaks, and others, secrets are mainly kept from us when the government knows we wouldn’t approve of the truth. Bulk data collection, stories of NSA analysts using their tools to stalk ex-girlfriends, other analysts going through nude pictures of American citizens and laughing about them... These are real things that have really happened, and that’s just the petty stuff. It’s not okay. Ever. And the best way you can tell something’s wrong at the highest levels of our government is by watching what happens when classified information is leaked.
When something is leaked that reveals numerous, major constitutional or human-rights violations, the only people who go to jail for it are the people who leaked it. Think about that for a minute. The person who told the truth is the person who goes to jail, while the people who did wrong aren’t punished. Where’s the justice in that? That falls well short of “...and justice for all.”
I don’t believe we should need leaks to know what’s going on inside our government, but if we do need them, the leakers should be protected from prosecution. Barack Obama ran on this idea in 2008, but then once he got into office, he proceeded to jail more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined. In fact, Obama was so hard-lined about this that the New York Times pre-emptively blamed him for anything that President Trump would end up doing to harm the press.
This government is meant to be a government “by the people, of the people, and for the people” and we can’t possibly do a good job of governing, or of choosing where we stand on issues or candidates, or even of choosing the direction in which we should be steering our country, if we don’t know what our government’s actually doing, or why it’s doing it, can we?
I don’t think so.
That which can be destroyed by the truth should be, because if anybody needs to lie to the American public in order to do their job, that means the public wouldn’t approve of what they’re doing. And if the public wouldn’t approve, it shouldn’t be done. Period. If it’s really necessary, the government needs explain why, truthfully. Convince us, and only after that should the government do these things. Never before.