Friday, June 19, 2009

Jon Stewart is a Menace to National Security

Such, at least, is the apparent reasoning of Jeffrey Smith, a lawyer for the Justice Department.

The Obama Administration is in the process of disappointing us by trying to keep secret the records of an FBI interview with Dick Cheney, regarding the treasonous leak of Valerie Plame's CIA job. The need for transparency in the executive branch has grown so pressing that, so far as we are concerned, virtually everything needs to be public, unless there is an urgent national security matter at stake.

And Smith claims nothing of the sort. Instead, his argument is that politicians should be protected from ... Jon Stewart. Literally:

Justice Department lawyers told the judge that future presidents and vice presidents may not cooperate with criminal investigations if they know what they say could become available to their political opponents and late-night comics who would ridicule them.

"If we become a fact-finder for political enemies, they aren't going to cooperate," ... Smith said during a 90-minute hearing. "I don't want a future vice president to say, `I'm not going to cooperate with you because I don't want to be fodder for 'The Daily Show.'"

Sigh. Do we really need to explain that (a) everything a president says or does is fodder for political satire, pretty much by definition; or (b) people quickly lose trust in leaders who keep secrets, which means that if your boss doesn't want to leave office with 23% approval ratings, he'd damn well better distance himself from a policy of lies and evasion? All of which, remember, is why in a democracy there are many strong arguments in favor of transparency, and few against.

All that said, of course, we can't imagine that the records, if released, would include Cheney saying to the man with the recorder, "Oh, yeah, I did that -- my bad." It just doesn't seem like him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sigh. These are the sort of stories that disappoint those of us who were hoping for some serious changes after the election.