Saturday December 24, 2016
Barack Obama’s chance for a transformative presidency ended when he bowed to Official Washington’s foreign-policy establishment of neocons and liberal interventionists and bought into the elitist notion that the American people should be guided by propaganda, not informed by facts.
Although he began his presidency by promising transparency, Obama instead undertook an unprecedented crackdown on national security whistleblowers, prosecuting more than all other presidents combined. Meanwhile, he authorized partial and misleading releases of information about key events. Instead of an informed public, his administration sought maximum propaganda advantage, such as with the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, and with the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.
But Obama’s anti-democratic approach to information, i.e., treating Americans like mushrooms in a darkened cellar, creates an opportunity for President-elect Donald Trump to do the opposite, reinvigorate US democracy by arming citizens with facts. By doing so, he also can counter his reputation as someone hostile to reality.
Once in office, Trump could use his power over pardons and commutations to reverse Obama’s punishment of truth-tellers – the likes of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden – and Trump can authorize as full a release of evidence about turning-point events as possible. There’s no justifiable reason for the US intelligence community to continue to withhold its assessments on the Syria-sarin case, which killed hundreds of civilians, or on the shoot-down of MH-17, which killed 298 people.