Openness and Civil Liberties: The Unsexy Topics
President Obama’s recent directive to what many oddly call the national security “community” (a hamlet with hundreds of smoking stovepipes?) to work on regulations to provide some protection for whistleblowers with security clearances can be viewed as an antidote to criticism of this administration’s ferocity—not equaled since Nixon—in pursuing leaks and pressuring the reporters who are leaked to, invoking the state secrets privilege to halt litigation that might check or expose surveillance and other abuses, conducting trials of accused terrorists in venues inaccessible to the public, and so on. No interviewing journalist or debate moderator has raised anything like these secrecy and civil liberties issues in questioning the President; it took comedian Jon Stewart to do that this week, when Mr. Obama dropped in on the Daily Show. The President’s response, calling such issues “not real sexy,” morphed into the kind of facetiousness that is possible when there will be no follow-up, but not everyone was amused.
Santa Ana Citizens Win Their Sunshine Law
When it comes to local sunshine ordinances—requirements for governmental transparency and citizen participation that go beyond state law—Northern California communities have been the leaders for close to 20 years. But now the south state has its first such law worthy of the name, thanks to citizens of Santa Ana who’ve been particularly focused on keeping a close watch on the plans of developers. The 4-3 approval vote by the city council could not have been closer, but when it came the supporters exploded in cheers so resounding that the mayor—who had voted no—hammered his gavel, insisting, “This is not a pep rally.”