Archive for June 29th, 2007

Setec Astronomy

June 29, 2007

In response to the recent Washington Post 4-part series on Vice President Cheney, some conservative pundits have argued that they still approve of the way Cheney operates because they believe he has the nation’s best interest at heart.

If good intentions were all that mattered, that might be persuasive.

Unfortunately, they aren’t. And power wielded in secret doesn’t just corrupt intentions; it corrupts wisdom.

Aside from engendering the tendency to behave badly, power wielded in secret also engenders a tendency to behave foolishly. Even if the current president and vice president were saints, immune to the morally corrupting influence of secret power, they still would make many more foolish mistakes as a result of having it.

It’s a simple enough principle. Secrecy, by its definition, means less input from fewer people, which almost always leads to more mistakes. There’s a reason the executive branch has a department devoted to diplomacy, another devoted to defense, and several specializing in collecting and analyzing information. Those departments aren’t pork barrel projects. They came into being because executives needed expert input to make good decisions.

The Bush/Cheney approach cuts off that expertise in the name of secrecy. It leaves the two of them and a handful of their immediate aides talking inside a barrel; the only ideas they hear are their own, echoing back to them as if everyone outside the barrel were agreeing with them. How often does that — and the lack of expert advice — lead to fewer mistakes? If the vice president’s record is any indication, almost never.

Secrecy isn’t just corrupting. It’s extremely error prone. And that remains true even with the best of intentions.

Secrecy breeds incompetence.