Locked with a Hundred Keys


Nothing makes me laugh harder than the falling out between Andrew McCabe, former acting director of the FBI, and Rod Rosenstein, deputy head of the Justice Department. McCabe apparently released government-owned memos to the press, indicating that Rosenstein wanted to tape President Trump’s conversations and oust him from office by means of the 25th Amendment, which provides for the removal of insane potentates. Who would have thought that such grimly determined stereotypes of justice would make such public fools of themselves?

The funniest thing is the public nature of this conflict. Big men in Washington dwell in a castle surrounded by a mile-thick dead zone of official secrecy. Where there’s a secrecy rule, they use it; where there isn’t one, they make it up; where they want to violate it, they do. Now, however, it seems that every second member of the Party of Management and Control is spilling data for his own advantage.

It’s maddening, neverending, Kafkaesque — a sickening emblem of life within the modern state.

It’s happened before, of course. Peter Strzok and Lisa Page happily discussed leaks to the press. James Comey bragged about using a friend to leak classified material. The IRS leaked information about groups it didn’t like. Et cetera. Meanwhile, the nation at large awaits the “release,” as if from penal servitude, of material legally supposed to be free to the public — about Benghazi, about the FBI attack on conservative and libertarian groups, about the aforementioned conversations of Strzok, Page, and the other members of their coven, and about the FISA procedures used to spy on Trump and his campaign (as well as other persons and entities). Freedom of Information Act suits are won, court orders are issued, even the president orders the release of documents, but official after official still manages to sequester, slow-walk, and block for “review” and “clearance” thousands of documents that the people have a right to see. The excuse is that allowing this information to escape would reveal the methods of the government employees involved. Well, that’s the point, isn’t it?

It’s maddening, neverending, Kafkaesque — a sickening emblem of life within the modern state. It reminds me of the horrifying conditions of slavery, as portrayed by Abraham Lincoln. In a speech delivered on June 12, 1857 (I am not a worshiper of Lincoln, but this is one of his best speeches), he discussed the eagerness of Southerners to prevent the slave from ever, on any account, becoming free:

They have him in his prison-house; they have searched his person and left no prying instrument with him. One after another they have closed the heavy iron doors upon him; and now they have him, as it were, bolted in with a lock of a hundred keys, which can never be unlocked without the concurrence of every key — the keys in the hands of a hundred different men, and they have scattered to a hundred different and distant places; and they stand musing as to what invention, in all the dominions of mind and matter, can be produced to make the impossibility of his escape more difficult than it is.

Substitute truth for slave and the description fits the present case.

Even Trump is imprisoned. What he should do is take the FISA file, and any other file he wants to liberate, xerox it with his own hands, and throw it out to whoever wants it. But he doesn’t. Even he appears to be frightened of the torrent of truth he might unleash against our secret masters.

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A fair portion of what would become libertarianism started with the abolitionists and those of us who call ourselves libertarians should revere the likes of Frederick Douglass. As such, it seems in immensely poor taste to compare human chattel slavery to any of the momentary inconveniences encountered by the present inhabitant of the White House, most of which he has brought upon himself.

Stephen Cox

Here's some free advice. Before commenting on something, try reading it first. And when reading it, try to look at the actual words. In this case, the words are: "Substitute 'truth' for 'slave' and the description fits the present case." "The inconveniences of the president" are not in that sentence, nor is there any indication, in the following paragraph, that he is the object of commiseration. In fact, that paragraph is a critique of Donald Trump. You can see this by going ahead and reading it.

Luther Jett

"Even Trump is imprisoned.... Even he appears to be frightened of the torrent of truth he might unleash against our secret masters."

He has good reason to be frightened. He is as guilty as anyone else of harboring secrets, from his tax returns to the transcript of his July meeting with Vlad Putin and the "controlled release" of background files relating to Brett Kavanaugh. As Alice said, "[They're] all nothing but a pack of cards!"

Scott Robinson

Dear Stephen,

Good article. I agree with you that there should be absolutely nothing about government that is concealed and kept hidden from us. All of the information that you included about the containment processes of slavery were very interesting. I've always thought all of the Top Secret concealment of government came from World War II, but that's probably just because history books don't really discuss government secrets until this era with the argument that our enemies are too strong and to keep our activities against them secret from them, we must keep it secret from everybody.

You know, when you think about that argument, it means that we must make everybody our enemy. I remember one time when I was in a research lab and I used that great cliché, "ignorance is bliss", and the principal investigator of that lab, or the boss, said, "That saying is not true if you're a manager." I thought about that and realized how right he was. If all of the workers you are supervising and managing their work are ignorant, they will be constantly making stupid mistakes and making those same mistakes after you've told them not to. It becomes the case when you tell them, "Don't bother doing anything. I'll take care of it."

Getting to the point of why government should not have anything it knows or does that is kept secret from the people of the country that the government works for. We the citizens who by virtue of our voting on government both who represents us and, in the form of propositions, what laws are enforced against us, are the managers of government. Therefore, we the citizens of the country must not be ignorant of anything the government does. Maybe there's some parallel to the secrecy of slave masters and the observations some people make, that we are enslaved by the government.

Silence is Golden (staff to beat you down),

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