The High Cost of Public Information
After dragging its feet for months, the United States Department of Education has asked a tiny nonprofit group to pay a ruinous sum for public information on the impact of a law that bars students who have committed drug offenses from receiving federal grants and loans. The government argued that the request was not in the public interest. The fee represents an increasingly common tactic that is used by the government to discourage public inquiries. (New York Times editorial published Feb. 4, 2006)
It appears to me that these are just another example of King George’s Gestapo tactics to keep the public uninformed about the government’s activities. If the administration has got to keep secret things that ought to be public, then they are obviously up to no good. If your activities must be done in the dark because they can’t stand the scrutiny of public disclosure, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing them. All things come to light eventually. I fully understand the needs of national security but, for the most part, domestic policy does not fall under that caveat, particularly the Department of Education.
I fear more from my own government than I do from terrorists. Terrorists have not curtailed our liberties; our government has. Terrorists are not spying on U.S. citizens but our government is.
You can’t fight terrorism with armies; we can only fight states that sponsor or condone terrorists within their borders. Once we invade, the terrorists can either move on or stay and train themselves by fighting our soldiers. That there hasn’t been a terrorist attack since 9/11 does not mean that the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism” is working. It’s more likely that the terrorists are lying low, waiting for us to let our guard down as we eventually will. A high state of vigilance cannot be maintained indefinitely. After a few years, we will feel safe again and relax our vigilance. That’s when the next terrorist attack is likely to occur.
The war on terrorism is a war against a concept. Terrorists are criminals and bringing them to justice requires good police work and the judicial process within the framework of the legal system and international law. We must eliminate the root causes of terrorism and spread good will among the nations that seem to produce terrorists.
But what do I know about international terrorism? I’m just an average citizen with justifiably more reason to fear the U.S. Government than Al-Quaeda. I, for one, do not feel safer under the protection of good King George. I actually feel less safe than I have at anytime in my life. I lived in Germany under the specter of anti-American terrorism for three years and once found a homemade bomb (a 5-gallon propane tank filled with C4) in front of my apartment building. Yet, I felt safer then than I do now. How did we get through it? By stepping up security, exercising a little more vigilance, and taking a few common sense precautions. Other than that, we carried on with our lives. We didn’t need another inept, cumbersome, monolithic bureaucracy charged with protecting us. We used the resources at hand and made better use of them.