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When the White House press secretary said this is what the President wants, as part of their response to the Wikileaks new avalanche of damning secret diplomatic innuendo, I couldn’t help but wonder at the dichotomy between that rhetoric of transparency and honesty compared with the overwhelming condemnation by Administration officials and pundits of Wikileaks and PFC Bradley Manning for poisoning the public air with the truth. If diplomacy is all about relationships, why must the candid reports of that diplomacy need to be hidden from public eyes?

Why must “open government” be conducted in secret? Yes, I know that the real world is complicated, and I understand the concept of understanding things in context and being candid in our sharing of assessments, but I think the kind of unanticipated periodic airing of our diplomatic “dirty laundry” ala vehicles such as Wikileaks may have the salutary effect of helping keep our “diplomatic conversations” more in line with our stated motives and objectives. If we really believe in “responsible, accountable and open government around the world,” as the White House officially claims we do, such an airing of the truth should not produce a scandal, as has this latest round of revelations, but should be an affirmation of that admirable, trust-enducing standard.

May 2022
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