Bruce Schneier, on transparency & accountability

I’ve been a long-time subscriber to Bruce’s newsletter and have always found every issue to be a wealth of timely insight and intelligence. In response to the recent and developing revelations on our elected government’s latest overreach, he’s written an essay on the critical role of transparency and accountability in a free society.

As we respond to the threat of terrorism, we must remember that there are other threats as well. A society without transparency and accountability is the very definition of a police state. And while a police state might have a low crime rate — especially if you don’t define police corruption and other abuses of power as crime — and an even lower terrorism rate, it’s not a society that most of us would willingly choose to live in.

In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter who’s in office, which co-opted party they’re aligned with, or whether or not they really believe they’re doing what they’re doing for our own good. I think that power was specifically dispersed in our founding documents for a very good reason: many people, given power, immediately set about to get more and more. In government, the endpoint of all that blind ambition is never going to be more liberty for the people.

The press, of course, is meant to be our first line of defense against the abuse and unchecked expansion of power. Unfortunately that can make principled reporters into targets. The truth matters, though, maybe more than ever, and it’s a critically important time now for those with the courage to seek it.