Bill Moyers on the secrecy of the Bush Administration

Here is an excerpt from remarks given recently by Bill Moyers, formerly of PBS Now, on the unprecented secrecy of the Bush White House:

It has to be said: there has been nothing in our time like the Bush Administration's obsession with secrecy.

This may seem self-serving coming from someone who worked for two previous presidents who were no paragons of openness. But I am only one of legions who have reached this conclusion. See the recent pair of articles by the independent journalist, Michael Massing, in The New York Review of Books. He concludes, "The Bush Administration has restricted access to public documents as no other before it." And he backs this up with evidence.

For example, a recent report on government secrecy by the watchdog group, OpenTheGovernment.org, says the Feds classified a record 15.6 million new documents in fiscal year 2004, an increase of 81% over the year before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

What's more, 64% of Federal Advisory Committee meetings in 2004 were completely closed to the public. No wonder the public knows so little about how this administration has deliberately ignored or distorted reputable scientific research to advance its political agenda and the wishes of its corporate patrons.

I'm talking about the suppression of that EPA report questioning aspects of the White House Clear Skies Act; research censorship at the departments of health and human services, interior and agriculture; the elimination of qualified scientists from advisory committees on kids and lead poisoning, reproductive health, and drug abuse; the distortion of scientific knowledge on emergency contraception; the manipulation of the scientific process involving the Endangered Species Act; and the internal sabotage of government scientific reports on global warming.

It's an old story: the greater the secrecy, the deeper the corruption.

This is the administration that has illegally produced phony television news stories with fake reporters about Medicare and government anti-drug programs, then distributed them to local TV stations around the country. In several markets, they aired on the six o'clock news with nary a mention that they were propaganda bought and paid for with your tax dollars.

This is the administration that paid almost a quarter of a million dollars for rightwing commentator Armstrong Williams to talk up its No-Child-Left-Behind education program and bankrolled two other conservative columnists to shill for programs promoting the President's marriage initiative.

This is the administration that tacitly allowed inside the White House a phony journalist under the non-de-plume of Jeff Gannon to file Republican press releases as legitimate news stories and to ask President Bush planted questions to which he could respond with preconceived answers.

And this is the administration that has paid over one hundred million dollars to plant stories in Iraqi newspapers and disguise the source, while banning TV cameras at the return of caskets from Iraq as well as prohibiting the publication of photographs of those caskets - a restriction that was lifted only following a request through the Freedom of Information Act.

Read all of Moyer's here. He was addressing the National Security Archive, a non-govt. research institute and archive at George Wash. Univ. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Other aspects of their site looked interesting as well.