For Koesj

Koesj said:

Where are the discussions on fundamental issues, questions like whether a president should be allowed to lie in public or how the intrusion of politics in intelligence gathering can mess up priorities.

A fine question Koesj. Is it alright for the government to lie, mislead, or withhold information from the public it serves in the interest of National security?

I think the answer is 'yes'. I think that the fact of the matter is that it is not incumbent on the government or the military to inform the public of every action it takes or why. I think that the government officials are elected and entrusted with the power to make those decisions. Not to say that the public shouldn't be informed or educated, but that when National security is on the line, the Government has a responsibility to protect national interests. And when that conflicts with disseminating information, national interests come first. Note, this is not an abridgement of freedoms. Nowhere are we given the right to know everything. It is only with the rise of the mass media that we have been instilled with the idea that we somehow are entitled to be privy to every decision and conversation.

The mass media is concerned with ratings and scooping each other for ratings. As a result, the public is fed with sensational story after overblown sensational story. This makes the actual act of governance exceedingly difficult. On top of that, our enemies know of our own media's rabid desire to report things best left hidden, and scrutinize every news story for beneficial information. Hell, Geraldo gave away troop locations and intentions on TV.

Discuss...

I''m not Koesj, but I feel he''d agree with me that lying in order to further the nation''s security is wrong. Vietnam was one such conflict where the government lied to the American public for what they thought was national security. Lying is a violation of the public trust and if any politician violates that trust, then they can expect to be removed from office or not reelected, especially when it involves the lives of that nation''s citizens. I find it ironic that a group that tried to have one president removed from office for lying would condone lying from one of their own for the perceived good of the nation.

I can sympathize with the need for operational security, but that was not at issue in the scandal we have been discussing. That involved a public statement to the public that was not entirely true. Look at what is going on in the UK, or California for that matter. Both Tony Blair and Gray Davis violated the public trust for what they thought was the best interests of those they represent, and look at what is happening. Gray Davis will be thrown out of office in November; Tony Blair''s time in office is shrinking rapidly in the face of the hearings in Parliament. You cannot lie to the public and expect people to be entirely okay with it.

What if the president makes a fatally wrong decision in an important case, but since we are no longer entitled to know everything we do not know it was his fault. Shouldn''t we all know it was his fault so we can vote him off, to prevent him doing another big mistake?
I do not trust any politician enough to let them plot on their own. I wanna know what they are doing and why. These people are our representatives, they should act in our interest solely. And lying us in the face makes things even worse.
How should the general public trust in politicans if they are lied to whenever the leaders think it is not in the publics interest to know the truth.
This is a very dangerous path your are proposing there.

EDIT: Typos

Being wrong is bad and lying is worse. The credibility of our intelligence agency has suffered. I can''t name any significant intelligence successes in recent memory. Mainly because they wouldn''t be revealed.

Frankly, we were led to believe that we would be wading in biochemical weapons. Obviously, this didn''t pan out.

The President shouldn''t lie to the people and he shouldn''t say anything regarding intelligence that our intelligence agency knows to be false or unsupported. George Tenet has screwed up too many times. He doesn''t deserve any more chances. I''m calling for his resignation.

I find it ironic that a group that tried to have one president removed from office for lying would condone lying from one of their own for the perceived good of the nation.

To keep the topic on track, note that we are specificially talking about whether is is acceptable to lie, mislead, and/or withhold information to protect National Security or National interests. That is very different than Clinton''s lies about his sexual behaviors. Lying to make yourself look better is not acceptable behavior. Lying to protect the United States is.

Well, I''ll defer to what I said before and Lawyeron''s statement; he nailed it on the head more succintly then I did.

All right, if outright lying is off limits, what about providing misleading information or withholding it?

Do you think that the public has a right to know everything?

yes.

And providing misleading information is just a euphemism for lying.

Withholding information of course is necessary.

Providing misleading information may be acceptable in certain forums as well. For instance during World War 2, using Patton as a distraction as the allied forced prepare to storm the beaches of Normandy. That''s not a lie, but Patton''s movements misled the enemy into thinking he was going to attack.

Another example is bluffing.

But there is a difference between using misdirection in war tactics (Eisenhower in D-Day and Schwartzkopf in Desert Storm) and using misleading information in policy speeches. Of course, there are examples where military lies are unacceptable, such as those used in Vietnam.

"JohnnyMoJo" wrote:

Do you think that the public has a right to know everything?

Yes. The politicians are the elected representatives accountable for their actions, and as such owe the people the Truth. Always. Especially when it comes to the reasons for major political decisions, like going to war.

EDIT: Operational security for military mission is of course a wholly different thing.

I think the biggest issues at stake in such a situation are A: the effectiveness of the national security policy and B: the credibility the government holds while pursuing that policy. If both of those conditions are met then there should be a certain ''gray area'' a government would be allowed to operate in. Sometimes you just have to twist the facts in order to effectively carry out your national security policy, I can understand that. Outright lying however, especially done by the prime representative of the American people, should not be allowed as it damages the credibility of the government and henceforth the effectiveness of the actions they take. You can cope with a lower spokesman making ''mistakes'' or even a CIA director taking responsibility over false statements but the president and the close group around him should always try to keep a clean sheet. You''ve got to admit that the current ''crisis'' over the false statements can do no good for the administration.

JohnnyMoJo wrote:
Do you think that the public has a right to know everything?

Yes. The politicians are the elected representatives accountable for their actions, and as such owe the people the Truth. Always. Especially when it comes to the reasons for major political decisions, like going to war.

No argument there. I am not arguing that deception is acceptable in matters of policy. I only think that decpetion is acceptable in matters of National Security. There is a difference.

But how do you propose to be informed of ''everything''? One person can''t possible possess the knowledge required to create a pencil from scratch, much less absorb the enormity of everything encompassed by a government.

The world just isn''t that black and white. I''m with Koesj on this one.

Indeed, there are valid concerns over accountability and credibility ind such situations but to put it bluntly, if it doesn''t outright damage the president and therefore government policy on a strategic level, it should be allowed to a fairly big extent.

"JohnnyMoJo" wrote:

No argument there. I am not arguing that deception is acceptable in matters of policy. I only think that decpetion is acceptable in matters of National Security. There is a difference.

But how do you propose to be informed of ''everything''? One person can''t possible possess the knowledge required to create a pencil from scratch, much less absorb the enormity of everything encompassed by a government.

Transparency in goverment agencies, natch. The information would be there for anyone wanting to dig through the horrid mess. There is of course the problem with military/intelligence operations. Letting anyone have access to information that would expose personel and potentionally get them killed is simply daft.

But how do you decide what is and what isn''t vital to protect? There is currently a case in the US where the government is trying to decide whether to make confidential a doctoral student''s dissertation because the subject is the Fiber Optic infrastructure of the US.

He did all of his research in the public domain, but apparently it is a roadmap on how to cripple the entire US communications infrastructure and a big part of the economy.

How do we decide what should be transparent and what should be hidden?

"JohnnyMoJo" wrote:

But how do you decide what is and what isn''t vital to protect? There is currently a case in the US where the government is trying to decide whether to make confidential a doctoral student''s dissertation because the subject is the Fiber Optic infrastructure of the US.

He did all of his research in the public domain, but apparently it is a roadmap on how to cripple the entire US communications infrastructure and a big part of the economy.

How do we decide what should be transparent and what should be hidden?

Point. I was mostly thinking of the thing that lead to this thread, ie misleading political rethoric in the interests of ''national security''. Clearly painting a big bullseye on your military installations is a very silly thing to do.

Although I''d be a bit uneasy about that dissertation getting classified. Giving people facts and then saying ''No, you shan''t draw these conclusions from them! Naughty boy!'' doesn''t sit very well with me.

saying ''No, you shan''t draw these conclusions from them! Naughty boy!'' doesn''t sit very well with me.

I agree with that. I just think there are some facts that people shouldn''t be allowed to know until they are no longer critical to national security.

But, this entire debate was predicated on the concept of a public official telling a lie as part of a policy statement. That is just flat-out wrong; Gray Davis is about to be thrown out of office for doing something similar.

I just think there are some facts that people shouldn''t be allowed to know until they are no longer critical to national security.

I can agree with that, as long as people don''t wave the classified stamp around too liberally and limit it to military/intelligence stuff.
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EDIT: I hate simultaneous posting.[/size]

No, actually, my question was only related to matters of national security. I think I said somewhere above that I don''t think politicians should lie under other circumstances.