I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

How about rank and serial number?

In the middle of the big, wet, worshippful French kiss to I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby masquerading as a news article in today's Washington Post, we find this seemingly insignificant but profoundly disturbing nugget:

Several aspects of Libby are subject to varied interpretations, or at the very least, casual mystery. Libby is loath to disclose -- even to close friends -- what the "I" stands for in his name. Matalin credits USA Today with "breaking" the story that Libby's first name is "Irv" (though other publications had reported "Irving" and public databases list him as "Irve").

Cheney's office would not confirm or deny what the "I" stands for.

Cheney's office refuses to disclose Libby’s real name? Is that really true?

I mean, a penchant for excess secrecy is one thing. But don’t we have the right to know the names -- y’know, the actual legal names, rather than merely the nicknames -- of our highest and most powerful governmental officials? That seems sort of basic, doesn’t it?

According to the Post article, Libby is one of the most powerful people in our Government and one of the most influential presidential aides in history:

Libby is distinctive for the power and authority he wields, a product largely of Cheney's outsize role in the Bush administration. Libby holds three titles: chief of staff and national security adviser to Cheney, and assistant to Bush. Like few other advisers, he attends the highest level of White House meetings. He attends the weekly gathering of Bush's top economic advisers and -- according to Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack," about the Bush administration's run-up to the Iraq war -- was one of two non-principals who attended National Security Council meetings with the president after Sept. 11, 2001 (the other was Condoleezza Rice's then-deputy, Stephen Hadley).”

He's one of the most powerful people in our Government, shaping matters of war and peace, life and death. And yet he won’t tell us his real name, and the Administration also refuses to tell us.

For the Administration's symbolic contempt towards basic precepts of transparency and responsiveness which this absurd secrecy reflects, if for no other reason, shouldn't this refusal to tell us “Scooter” Libby’s real name be provoking lots of outrage?

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