Keep­ing the lid on

The Covington News - - Opinion -

I got think­ing about some­thing my dad Ron­ald Rea­gan wrote about in his book “An Amer­i­can Life” about the im­por­tance of some­times keep­ing se­crets from Congress.

He re­called cer­tain things he re­fused to re­veal to mem­bers of Congress and ex­plained why he would not take them into his con­fi­dence.

For ex­am­ple, he re­called that he would not share with Congress the fact that he was about to go into Gre­nada to pre­vent a Com­mu­nist takeover of that is­land and to res­cue en­dan­gered Amer­i­can stu­dents there.

He would not share with Congress the fact that he was about to or­der a fly-by over Khadafy’s Libya and take out one or two of his homes in the process.

He wouldn’t share with Congress that he was or­der­ing Ed Meese to shoot down Libyan planes if they locked on to our fighter planes with their mis­siles. He said if our pi­lots be­lieved they were locked-on, they should not hes­i­tate to shoot them down. And they did.

In his book he ex­plained that he didn’t re­veal th­ese things be­cause he feared that mem­bers of Congress would leak in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia to try to stop him from car­ry­ing out those plans to pro­tect our na­tional se­cu­rity which they op­posed.

He knew that such leaks could cause peo­ple to lose their lives and be very detri­men­tal to the United States. So he kept his mouth shut.

What got me think­ing about this was an ar­ti­cle in TheWash­ing­ton Times last week that re­vealed that the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion was de­vis­ing a plan to stave off the very se­ri­ous pos­si­bil­ity of a Turk­ish in­va­sion and mil­i­tary ac­tion in north­ern Iraq.

The story claimed that U.S. Spe­cial Forces would work with the Turk­ish mil­i­tary to lo­cate and cap­ture lead­ers of a Kur­dish rebel group, the Kur­dis­tanWork­ers Party.

Covert ac­tion, clas­si­fied plan­ning and the ut­most se­crecy were re­quired if the plan was to suc­ceed in pre­vent­ing an ex­plo­sive sit­u­a­tion to de­velop in north­ern Iraq, which up to now has been the most peace­ful area of that trou­bled coun­try. An in­va­sion by Turkey would up­set that ap­ple cart.

It was vi­tal that the plan be kept con­fi­den­tial, and mem­bers of Congress were told that fact dur­ing Con­gres­sional brief­ings, but un­con­cerned Capi­tol Hill blab­ber­mouths chucked se­cu­rity into the trash can when one or more mem­bers of Congress present at brief­ings leaked the in­for­ma­tion to colum­nist Robert No­vak, who pub­lished it in his col­umn.

The re­sult: the in­ter­ests of the United State were un­der­mined and the chance of suc­cess of a pro­gram vi­tal to the United States was scut­tled.

Here we go again with mem­bers of Congress. They leaked in­for­ma­tion ei­ther be­cause they dis­agreed with a pol­icy or are just ex­cited over be­ing able to show how im­por­tant they are in hav­ing ac­cess to clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion they can leak to the me­dia.

It doesn’t bother them that the leaks pre­vented some­thing vi­tal to our na­tional se­cu­rity from hap­pen­ing. In this case, the plan no longer has any chance of suc­cess be­cause, thanks to the leak­ers, ev­ery­one knows about it.

Th­ese mem­bers of Congress who can’t or won’t keep a se­cret need to be held ac­count­able, but they won’t be­cause the one piece of in­for­ma­tion they won’t leak is who they are.

Th­ese leak­ers could kill us all some­day.

My dad had the right idea: Don’t ask, don’t tell. Just go ahead and do the right thing and keep quiet about it un­til it’s done.


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