Sometimes Cliches Are True

I really try to avoid using clichés. They are a lazy device, and in many cases aren’t even accurate. But sometimes, they really do apply. And I can’t help thinking about the very tired phrase “politics makes strange bedfellows” as I read this piece from Politico. It talks about the various Freedom of Information Act requests that have been filed seeking disclosure of photos from the Navy Seals raid that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death (and as an aside, how awesome are the Navy Seals? I am privileged to work with former Seal Ev Greene, an attorney in our labor and employment department). Anyway, the requesters come from across the political spectrum – and include NPR on the left and Citizens United on the right. The fact that such diverse groups are asking for the photos supports a point I’ve made on several occasions – that transparency is an issue that cuts across ideological lines. All small “d” democrats, it seems to me, should demand that government be as accountable as possible. And that requires that citizens be able to review government records, unless there are compelling reasons why not. And that is the issue here. Are the national security concerns expressed by the White House sufficient to block release? It’s a good question. But I hope that is how the debate is framed. Because if the photos are released, they should be released because the FOIA requires them to be released, and no exemption applies. They should not be released simply to “end conspiracy theories that bin Laden is still alive” as Senator Jim Inhofe argues. Here’s the thing about ridiculous conspiracy theories – the theories, and the people who promote them are, um, ridiculous. And persistent. So if they think the US is involved in a conspiracy to fake the killing of bin Laden, what makes Senator Inhofe think the photos will convince them otherwise? Let’s do the right thing for the right reasons. Appeasing crazy people isn’t one.