Now, however, that Ford has died, I've learned about what he accomplished without a lot of fanfare and without a lot of self-promotion. Many people underestimated him and disagreed with his choice of pardoning Nixon. "But time has a way of clarifying past events, and now we see that President Ford was right," Sen. Edward Kennedy said. "His courage and dedication to our country made it possible for us to begin the process of healing and put the tragedy of Watergate behind us."
Ford went out of his way to promote openness and trustworthiness of the American government. Nixon had created a web of secrecy and corruption within his administration. Robert Gates, the new Secretary of State, described the Nixon years in part as "a time of secret deals and public obfuscation (and deception)". I wonder if he will remember those times as he begins his work in the Bush administration.
William Rogers, former attorney general and former secretary of state said "the public should view excessive secrecy among government officials as parents view sudden quiet where youngsters are playing. It's a sign of trouble."
I've recently started reading a book by John W. Dean called "Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush." I'm about a third of the way through the book and I am confused as to how we have allowed this secrecy, this loss of civil liberties to re-occur without fighting for our history, for our way of life. We have allowed ourselves to fall prey to the fear-mongering. We've accepted blindly the outright lies that have been told to us and we haven't dug deep enough to find the truth. Even the media seems to accept the bullying and the refusal to give information.
The first 40 years of George Bush's life are difficult to find out about. He has walked into the White House with less scrutiny than any other President of the United States; from what Dean describes, he would not be able to pass a White House security clearance check if he was applying for a job at the White House. His business experiences have been failures covered up because of his father's reputation and it is clearly evident that both he and Cheney have violated more insider trading laws than Martha Stewart. They have not gone to prison, however, but instead are defining our future. Cheney has openly lied about Halliburton dealings with countries facing American sanctions and his financial arrangements with Halliburton appear very questionable.
Taking a quote from Dean's book:
"In 1987, the late Justice William J Brennan Jr. (an Eisenhower appointee) lamented about the predictable nature of his country during war, noting, 'After each perceived security crisis ended, the United States has remorsefully realized that the abbrogation of civil liberties was unnecessary. But it has proven unable to prevent itself from repeating the error when the next crisis came along.'"
Since 9/11, Bush and Cheney have done much to fan the flame of public fear. But what have they done to make America safer? In the days and weeks following 9/11, we had overwhelming support from the rest of the world. We've since alienated many of those countries and caused more turmoil in the Middle East. Our civil liberties are being eroded quickly, more so than we probably realize. The terrorists are winning: We have become less democratic. Our government has discredited itself and lost its claim to the high moral standards of liberty we used to stand for. We have sold our environment, our energy policies and our public health policies to the highest bidder, whoever contributes the most to the political campaigns.
I wonder how things will change in January.