Of particular note, of course are the millions of emails that have gone missing from the office of President Bush & Vice President Cheney. According to Cheney, he “alone may determine what constitutes vice presidential records or personal records. Another "so?" to the people of this country, 29% of whom have a favorable view of the job Cheney is doing. Cheney doesn't care what people think and he thinks he has done a fantastic job as Vice President and for the country. I disagree.
Although it might seem insignificant to some, one secret that we must not forget are the missing photographs of the homecoming of the flag covered caskets from Iraq & Afghanistan. This misguided policy was put in place in 1991 by then Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney. From the National Security Archive at George Washington University, they provide the historical background to the ban on photographs.
The ban on media coverage of returning casualties was imposed by Defense Secretary Cheney after an embarrassing incident in which three television networks broadcast live, split-screen images in December, 1989, as the first U.S. casualties were returning from an American assault on Panama. In that incident, President Bush was seen on television joking at a White House news conference while somber images of flag-draped coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base moved across viewers' screens. The ban on war casualty images was continued during the Clinton administration, which made several exceptions to allow publication and broadcast upon the return of victims of attacks against U.S. personnel abroad, including the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. President George W. Bush continued the ban following the start of the Afghanistan war in October, 2001 and the Iraq invasion in March, 2003.The censorship of these photographs will deny historians and our country photographic evidence of the casualties of the controversial War on Terror. What stark documentation will be available to see how the United States honored the military casualties during these difficult years? Nothing demonstrates the human cost of war than these photographs and nothing demonstrates the honor afforded to these young men & women. The Bush administration refuses to provide this evidence.
Full disclosure- the day I was told my son, 1Lt Ken Ballard was killed in Iraq in 2004, I requested the photographs of my son's casket being returned to Dover. The Army refused my request stating that "it was against Army policy and it was for the privacy of the families". I never got those photographs despite repeated requests during the week before Ken's body was returned to me in California.
So much damage has been caused by this administration that it is likely we will never know how much. Because of the administration's affinity towards a cloak of secrecy and all the mysteries that lie beneath it and behind it, there is no intention of historians knowing what was done in the name of our Country and it's citizens. What better clue to a verdict of guilty, guilty, guilty?
A New York Times editorial says History is truly the poorer for the Bush administration. President-elect Barack Obama must quickly undo the damage by ordering that records be shielded from political interference, by repairing the freedom-of-information process, and by ending the abuse of the classification process to cloak the truths of the presidency.
We owe it to future generations to provide as much of the truth as we can get. We owe it to ourselves to know the truth as truth defines us as a country and a people. I am not okay with the secrets of this administration and I know I am in good company with people who feel the same.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy said “The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.” Only we can answer if Bush & Cheney's secrecy is repugnant or acceptable and indeed whether we are a free and open society. The Obama administration can answer those questions loud and clear.