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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

“Repugnant in free, open society” — “SECRECY”

Timely reflection

“The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society. Inherently and historically, we as a people are opposed to secret proceedings and concealment — John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

Edited excerpts by Carolyn Bennett
From blog text and video postings of John F. Kennedy’s Secrecy speech

“…The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers cited to justify it.…

“Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. There is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

“That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control and no official of my Administration — of high rank or low, civilian or military — should interpret my words …  as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes, or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.…

“No President should fear public scrutiny of [that president’s] program. From scrutiny comes understanding. From understanding comes support or opposition. Both are necessary.…

“Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy.

“That is why the press [is] protected by the First Amendment — not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not simply to ‘give the public what it wants’; but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and, sometimes, even to anger public opinion.

“This means greater coverage and analysis of international news — for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. It means government at all levels must meet its obligation to provide [the public] with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security...

“I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.…”

Sources and notes

Today in history1787: U.S. Constitutional Convention opened in Philadelphia. 
On this day in 1787, the Constitutional Convention opened in Philadelphia, where 55 state delegates, initially charged with amending the Articles of Confederation, later drafted the Constitution of the United States.

John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK,  b. May 29, 1917, Brookline, Massachusetts, d. November 22, 1963, Dallas, Texas, 35th president of the United States, 1961–63), who faced a number of foreign crises, especially in Cuba and Berlin, but managed to secure such achievements as the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and the Alliance for Progress. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas.

“The administration’s first brush with foreign affairs was a disaster. In the last year of the Eisenhower presidency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had equipped and trained a brigade of anticommunist Cuban exiles for an invasion of their homeland. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously advised the new president that this force, once ashore, would spark a general uprising against the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. However, the Bay of Pigs invasion was a fiasco: every member of the force on the beachhead was either killed or captured. Kennedy assumed ‘sole responsibility’ for the setback. Privately he told his father that he would never again accept a Joint Chiefs recommendation without first challenging it.” History and biographical notes from Britannica

 “In Wake of WikiLeaks Cable Release, JFK, Ellsberg’s Remarks on ‘Secrecy,’ ‘Covert Ops’ Worth Noting, JFK '61: “Word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society” (Brad Friedman), November 28, 2010,  http://www.bradblog.com/?p=8214

Brad Friedman
Los Angeles-based Brad Friedman is an investigative journalist/blogger, political commentator, broadcaster, author, expert on issues of election integrity, Commonweal Institute Fellow, co-founder of the non-partisan government corruption watchdog organization VelvetRevolution.us, and publisher and executive editor of The BRAD BLOG (http://www.Bradblog.com).

Friedman is a 2010 winner of the Project Censored award, recognized for ‘Outstanding Investigative Journalism’ in his coverage of ‘The Mysterious Death of Mike Connell—Karl Rove’s Election Thief’. On the heels of his months-long series outing the New York Times for having fallen for the ACORN ‘Pimp’ Hoax created by Rightwing propagandists James O'Keefe and Andrew Breitbart, Friedman was honored in 2010 with the BuzzFlash ‘Wings of Justice’ award. Along with co-writer Michael Richardson, Friedman contributed a chapter on the illegal certification of electronic voting machines in Nevada in 2004 for Mark Crispin Miller’s 2008 book Loser Take All, http://www.bradblog.com/?page_id=4516

The Kennedy quote also posted and tagged to  Cablegate, politics, WikiLeaks, December 4, 2010, by theotherthomasotter:  http://theotherthomasotter.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/john-f-kennedy-the-very-word-secrecy-is-repugnant-in-a-free-and-open-society/

Thomas Otter blogs over Germany’s Gartner blog network.  He is working part time on a Ph.D. at Karlsruhe University in Germany, focusing on “the relationship between enterprise software and law.” His blog comments are personal individual views “rather than those of my employer.” Otter is a research director at Gartner, http://theotherthomasotter.wordpress.com/about/


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