Bound by Honor?

Bound by Honor?
Secrecy vs. Honesty


Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
November 3, 2013


There is an inherent tendency to suppose guilt, when someone lies about an incident.  Many applauded when Martha Stewart was sent to prison for 5 months for lying to investigators about some stock dealings.  The charge was not perjury, rather, “obstruction of justice” If someone lies about, say, a relative’s whereabouts, though the lie may have been told to protect someone’s privacy rather than obstruct justice, it is a presumption of guilt on the part of the person “hiding” information, as well as the object of the investigation.  Quite frankly, we have been conditioned to accept that lying is an implication of guilt, without regard to the cause for the lying.  This, of course, is instilled in us by the big brother mentality of being protected by the government.

Perjury, the willful telling of a lie while under oath, is criminal.  It always had been, and, it always should be.  This, perhaps, is the foundation of the above, yet in many cases, an oath is not a part of the lying, though still held to the standard of proof of guilt.

So, we can conclude that either by law or by implication, the people believe themselves bound to truthfulness, when dealing with the government.

What of those in power, whether a policeman in traffic court, a politician running for office, those elected to run the machinery of government, or those holding the highest offices of trust in this nation?  Are they not bound, while in their official capacity, whether an immediate oath is required, or they are simply bound by their oath of office, “to support and defend the Constitution” and in the realm of state officers, of the constitution of their state; are they not even more bound to truthfulness?

It seems, however, whether the cop in court, an elected official running for re-election or standing before Congress and/or the people, the Attorney General of the United States, or even the Executive Officer (president) of the United States, have a flagrant disregard for their oaths and the people of the nation.  They, and the press that supports them, seem to be immune to such a lowly concept as a sense of honor.  To most other people, lying is both dishonorable and criminal.

In Congressional hearings, an official of the United States, flat out declared that he knew nothing about “Fast and Furious”, which sent hundreds of legal and illegal arms south of the border.  Subsequently, the evidence shows that he did know and probably condoned that operation, yet he still holds his high office, at our expense.  The extent of punishment is, at best, a mild rebuke.

Similarly, we have an Executive and congress-critters that make promises.  Should those promises, absent a well-justified reason to the contrary, be held to the highest standards of honor?  And, if made frequently, deemed to be lies, based upon a lack of intent to fulfill when offered?

National Security is the mask behind which the government seeks to hide information.  A search for a definition of “National Security” in the United States Code (US Code) yields no results; however, it does contain rather ambiguous references to protecting national security.

Wikipedia provides some insight:

There is no single universally accepted definition of national security.  The variety of definitions provide an overview of the many usages of this concept.  The concept still remains ambiguous, having originated from simpler definitions which initially emphasized the freedom from military threat and political coercion to later increase in sophistication and include other forms of non-military security as suited the circumstances of the time.

From that same source, we can find some apparent contradictory definitions:

Arnold Wolfers (1960), while recognising the need to segregate the subjectivity of the conceptual idea from the objectivity, talks of threats to acquired values:
“An ambiguous symbol meaning different things to different people.  National security objectively means the absence of threats to acquired values and subjectively, the absence of fear that such values will be attacked.”

The 1996 definition propagated by the National Defence College of India accretes the elements of national power:
“National security is an appropriate and aggressive blend of political resilience and maturity, human resources, economic structure and capacity, technological competence, industrial base and availability of natural resources and finally the military might.”

The former inclined toward protection of the nation from external efforts to change its “values”; in other words, to protect the nation and its people.  The latter, however, appears to be more inclined to protect the government from its own people, and to bear no responsibility or accountability.

So, let’s look at what happens when government officials break the law and lie about it.

Valarie Plame was inducted as a CIA officer in 1985.  From that point forward, she acted as a covert operative for the CIA until, in July 2003, Robert Novak, using information obtained from Richard Armitage at the US State Department, exposed her as an operative.  Plame eventually resigned her position in December 2005.

This, exposing an agent, can, without a doubt, by considered a breach of national security, as it divests the government of continued utilization of the agent for the purpose for which that person was trained.

Subsequent investigation by a grand jury resulted in the indictment of Lewis “Scooter” Libby for his role in the divulgence of the name of the agent.  In March 2007, Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and two counts of perjury.  He was acquitted on one count of making false statements.  He was not charged for revealing Plame’s CIA status.  His sentence was 30 months in prison and two years of probation.  In July, President George W. Bush commuted Libby’s sentence, removing the prison term but leaving in place the probation.  Libby, who did violate the concept of national security and did obstruct justice by lying, served less time, four months, than Martha Stewart did.

Based upon the legal ambiguity of “national security”, it can be turned against the people, when it serves the government, and it can be used to protect those who work for the government, since there is no legal definition.  It is a subjective determination by the prosecutor, who is an agent of government.

So, we can see that lies are bad, when told by the public, even without an oath that is required by jurisprudence to rise to the level of criminal.

On the other hand, government, from traffic cop to President, can lie under the guise of national security, and is subject to discipline only when the press (the elite press, as much a part of government as other officers — and, which lies to us, daily) or other circumstance rise the incident to a level of national public attention.

It follows, then, that citizens are held to be honorable, while those serving the government are not, in the least, Bound by Honor.

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