Although a democracy is a government that is transparent and open, where the people, not only have the right to know what the people they elected are doing but also seek answers to questions that arouse their curiosity. The government on its part ensures that whatever it does goes through the due processes of law and that public opinion is respected and valued.
However, there are many government documents that the government’s brands as sensitive and confidential and such documents are not made public – the government’s says that this is done for reasons of national security and their sensitive nature could cause harm to the country’s image.
However, are there documents, which are suppressed and concealed from the public, not for the aforementioned very legitimate and valid reason, but because their coming to light could embarrass the government, or even worse, expose illegal activities?
The country has three levels of documents classification, with each categorization indicating the level of sensitivity and the potential of putting national security in peril. Files are categorized as confidential and secret and for really sensitive documents that involve undercover activities, it is marked top secret.
But there are many, supposedly classified documents, created over the years, by both Republicans and the Democrats, that cover a wide range of topics ranging from political assassinations, furtive spying, historical events and trade negotiations. Since the President has the power to decide which documents can be made public and should be consigned to the archive vaults away from prying eyes, it is possible that he could use this privilege to suppress documents that show him or his party in poor light.
Here are some documents that would be of huge interest to the people, historians, analysts and economists but owing to their, supposedly sensitive nature, are not available for public scrutiny.
President Obama’s memo sanctioning killing of US citizens for crimes ranging from treason, terrorism activities against the country, would have made for very interesting reading, but the 50-page memorandum was never released to the public.
Who really killed President Kennedy continues to baffle the American public, although almost half a century has elapsed. There are upwards of a thousand documents, whose contents are Greek to the Americans. The documents apparently also contain information regarding Lee Harvey Oswald, before he purportedly assassinated the charismatic President.
Prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay were the subject of intense media interest and curiosity. US Military files that were leaked by WikiLeaks, exposed information about 765 prisoners – but there were 779 of them. Who were the remaining 14, why were their files concealed and what happened to them?
International trade negotiations are extremely sensitive matters and different rules apply to different countries. Some fall under ‘most favored nations’ and others are shown lesser act of business generosity. The Obama administration, is incomprehensively, extremely reluctant to make public a covert single-page document pertaining to Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, one that came into existence 18 years after it was proposed and mandated in 2005. The document clarifies under what circumstances should non-American investors be accorded the same facilities and be treated on par with US investors.
It is not that only President Obama has put the lid on files, all Presidents’ have done so, some more than the others. When President George HW Bush relinquished office, he made sure that he consigned a file to the secret vaults, a day before he vacated the white House – it was so secretive that, two decades later, even its title remains unknown. President Reagan also issued six National Security Directives, with President Bill Clinton issuing twenty-nine, President George W. Bush issued two, whilst the current President Obama has seven National Security Directives, with top secret titles.
It is assumed that these files, categorized by a range of American President as hush-hush and furtive, contain information varying from cocaine trafficking in Peru, election in Nicaragua, dealings with Fidel Castro, the crashing of the twin towers and our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.