Bush administration embraces hypocrisy

Karl Noyes

The term “hypocrite” used to be a derogatory term but the George W. Bush administration has embraced the term as an anthem. Numerous accounts for the administration’s past hypocrisies exist. Take for example their commitment to small government and then their successful fostering of homeland security, which is the largest government increase since World War II. Another includes the rejection of the Kyoto Treaty, which was signed by 57 other nations recognizing the existence of global warming and instituting measures to reduce essential elements of global warming. The Bush administration promised to offer legitimate alternatives to achieve Kyoto’s goals. Instead, the administration has made it easier for polluters by encouraging the expansion of fossil-fuel use by urging drilling in Alaska, allowing snowmobiles in national parks, refusing to require out-of-date energy facilities to adopt anti-pollution equipment and not enforcing miles-per-gallon increases required of automobile manufacturers. President Bush declared he would be tough on corporate wrongdoing, but hired now-resigned Harvey Pitt, a known lapdog of those same accused corporations. In the end, these aberrations might be tolerable if Bush is just helping those who helped him get elected, a fact of politics.

Yet the Bush administration’s flaming hypocrisy concerning privacy and information is disgustingly offensive to intelligent Americans. Bush’s recent hypocritical crusade stems from its insistence to gather information about the private citizen while refusing to release information about its own actions. With Nixonian cunning, a Hoover-like aversion to disrupt the private citizen and McCarthy-like malice, Bush has implemented severe privacy rights abuses such as homeland security, Operation TIPS – Terrorist Information and Prevention System – and the USA Patriot Act. However, the administration insists that anything it does remain covert and unknown to the American public.

Included within the homeland security act is the comprehensive domestic database which collects private information on credit card purchases, telephones calls, banking transactions and travel patterns of individuals. Built into the homeland security act are exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act, so citizens wanting to view information gathered about themselves could not check to verify if the information was true or to check what parts of their lives are being invaded by FBI, CIA and other government operatives. Under homeland security, Operation TIPS and the USA Patriot Act, the government can tap phones, view e-mail, analyze purchases, watch travel destinations, view medical records and keep tabs on all banking activity. Americans are left helpless to be pried and prodded with little sense of awareness or recourse.

It is odd how easily the Bush administration will sponsor expeditions to gather information but stoutly refuses to reveal to the public its own information.

The Bush administration refuses to disclose any information concerning the formulation of Bush’s energy policy or membership of his energy task force. The task force, which had a key hand in developing the administration’s energy plan, remains unknown. In fact, the National Resources Defense Council and General Accounting Office have been forced to sue for release of information concerning the administration’s energy policy and national energy policy.

The Bush administration will not release any document from the Reagan administration. In 1978, Congress passed a law requiring the release of presidential records 12 years after they are removed from office. At least 68,000 Reagan presidential documents fall under this category and are required to be available for public knowledge. The Bush administration is blocking their release. Strangely, the national archives have had particular trouble obtaining documents concerning Bush’s father and Reagan’s vice president, George H. Bush.

The Bush administration supports Vice President Dick Cheney’s efforts not to release documents concerning the Halliburton scandal. Halliburton, you might recall, is charged with stock fraud with an Enron-like sellout of its stock in the late 1990s. Cheney was chairman and chief executive of Halliburton during this time.

Finally, the Bush administration’s support of a Sept. 11 independent investigation is suspect at best. Initially opposing any independent investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration finally conceded that a full investigation will have to be made, but only after announcing former secretary of state to the Nixon administration Henry Kissinger, a man who has an infamous record of secrecy and shady dealings, to head the investigation committee.

If the Bush administration is so willing to gather information that rightfully should be private, why is it denying the rights of Americans to retrieve documents and information important to ongoing investigations and historical records?

Maybe being a hypocrite is not so uncommon anymore, but stealing Americans’ privacy and denying their access to information is the deepest of constitutional offenses.