“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 secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.”
Above are excerpts from a speech entitled “The President and the Press: Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association”, given by U.S. President John F. Kennedy at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, April 27, 1961.
I encourage you to read Kennedy’s words again and let it sink in for a period of time.
Who or what, among us today, is our secret society? In my opinion, this country’s secret society is the people’s government.
As a prime example a local lady delivered to me documentation a few days back where she had requested information from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). In this documentation the NRC requested a number of [what I consider] unusual questions before they could honor the lady’s request for information, such as: Explain the extent to which the requester will extract and analyze the substantive content of the agency record; Describe the nature of the specific activity or research in which the agency records will be used and the specific qualifications the requester possesses to utilize information for the intended use in such a way that it will contribute to public understanding; and Describe the intended means of dissemination to the general public.
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