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5.03.02
Politics and Economy:
Bill Moyers Responds


Just a month ago we reported on the growing secrecy in government and efforts by journalists, historians, and other citizens to challenge it. Our story was focused on the Freedom of Information Act and generated more response than any we have broadcast. Your e-mails are still coming....Some were pro-freedom of information...

View the Commentary
Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers
Responds to Viewer E-mail

"I am a retired firefighter with the better part of twenty years in public service. I used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain medical records the local government was keeping from me. Those documents helped me get a disability pension that under the law I was entitled to receive. Without the freedom of information act my family would have suffered insurmountable financial consequences." - Ross Falzone

And there was this response from Franklin B. Thomas, Jr.

"I am diametrically opposed to the executive branch's action to limit information to the public and to Congress. They seem to forget that they govern by the consent of the people. And, I for one, do not give them my consent to shut me out."

And many viewers spoke in support of President Bush...

"It is important that the President be able to confer with advisers, and other persons, in an atmosphere wherein all parties may be able to express themselves freely - and be able to explore situations, delineate options, and brainstorm, without the fear that such advice will be leaked out of context, as most leaks are." -Tonywalk

And there were those who couldn't disagree with us more...

"Finally, finally we have a responsible, no-nonsense President doing a good, no great job. Now because he's not including the press (this includes you Mr. Moyers) in every thing he does, you cry that you're being excluded from the party. Well, grow up. Let Mr. Bush do his job." -Mr. Richards

I'm trying, Mr. Richards, I'm trying. But as a recovering spinmeister myself, over thirty years sober, I know what the disease of secrecy does to you. You get grandiose thoughts and begin to equate your political interest with the national interest. Take Vice President Cheney, for example. He has refused to turn over records of those secret meetings where he invited his buddies in the oil and gas business to write the administration's new energy policy and help themselves to billions of your tax dollars. He claims it's a matter of principle to protect executive privilege. But that's just not right. It's a cover up.

Thanks to lawsuits by conservative and environmental watchdogs that have forced the release of thousands of documents, we now know why President Bush reversed. Vice President Cheney got a confidential memo from one of the biggest lobbyists in Washington, the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, slyly referring to the regulation of carbon dioxide as 'eco-extremism' and asking the White House to put energy policy ahead of the environment. And look at this memo from a senior Energy Department official inviting another Washington lobbyist to send a wish list of how the administration could serve the industry. Those words on the screen are right out of the secret memo:

"If you were King, or Il Duce [a reference to the fascist dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini], what would you include in a national policy, especially with respect to natural gas interests".

By the way, when that memo was first released, those words had been excised... whited out. Let's just call it co-dependency... between an industry and politicians under the influence...

That's all for tonight. Join the debate on freedom of information and let us know what you think about this week's stories. Go to pbs.org. For now, I'm Bill Moyers.

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