Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Knowledge is power, and yet the “president” is a moron. Go figure.


The US Court of Appeals for DC rules, unanimously yet, that Dick Cheney can keep the records of his energy task force secret, saying in its opinion that “The president must be free to seek confidential information from many sources, both inside the government and outside.” Why must he? In a democracy where the government is theoretically accountable to the people, the people must have the necessary information to judge the actions of the government, but the Bushies want to preserve a monopolistic hold on that information. Judge Raymond Randolph’s unstated assumptions about how executive functions should be carried out — “free” not just to seek information, but free from accountability — are anti-democratic; they assume that a president is like a king.

Randolph also cites the need to preserve the “separation of powers,” but c’mon, no actual powers are threatened in any way, except in the sense that “knowledge is power.” This is about data, not power. What the Court’s ruling actually preserves is separation of information, since Congress will be asked to vote on the administration’s proposals without having access to the data the task force had, or the ability to judge whether that data might have been distorted by having come only from representatives of industry, unchallenged.

Much the same thing went on in the court. The judges ruled that the plaintiffs hadn’t proven that the energy companies’ flacks had acted as de facto members of the secret task force, writing an energy policy to suit themselves, but wouldn’t let the plaintiffs have access to the names of those people in order to prove that they were. I’m not even sure the court itself was given the task force’s records.

In the Bush administration, knowledge is power, and they’re both fossil-fuel based.

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