by Jim Hightower
Let's hear it for conservatives!
I don't mean the ideological nutballs of the loopy right,
such as Tom DeLay. Nor do I mean the corporatists who masquerade as
conservatives to enrich corporate elites at the expense of everyone
else, as, for example, Tom DeLay does. (With DeLay, you get a twofer
as a poster boy for both wings of phony conservatism).
Rather, I'm talking about the real conservatives who're
now standing up against the rising tsunami of secrecy in government.
Public officials, from the president on down, have a natural proclivity
to slap a "secret" tag on any scrap of information they'd
rather the public not see and they've gotten slap happy in
In the White House, the rise of official secrecy has
been startling... and dangerous. In Bush's first term, the number
of classified documents rose more than 75 percent. Sixteen million
documents are now being declared secret each year, hidden from We
the People, at a cost of $7 billion a year not counting what
the intelligence agencies hide from us. At the same time, the Bushites
and the congress have rushed to weaken or kill our right-to-know laws.
As the founders knew, a government operating in secrecy
is a threat to its own people, and only by empowering the people to
see what's going on inside can democracy have a chance. Luckily, some
true conservatives are now rebelling against the recent rise in secrecy.
An umbrella group called Openthegovernment.org is rallying Constitutional
conservatives from all parties to turn the tide for openness. Sen.
John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, is defying his own party's leadership
to sponsor legislation that would strengthen our Freedom of Information
In dealing with government power, it's not true that "what you don't know can't hurt you." All of us Democrats, Republicans, whatever need to stand up now for this truly conservative principal. To join the effort, go to www.openthegovernment.org.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Lets Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com.
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