It is well-known that security agencies of the world rely on a system of classification and secrecy in keeping the details of their operations out of the public sphere.
Each year, millions of pages of documents are edited with a redaction protocol, classified as ‘secret’, and withheld from our gaze to prevent the unprivileged from ever knowing exactly what these agencies are up to.
While this ‘spook protocol’ of concealing secrets serves a dual function of protecting operatives, agency operations, as well as barring public perceptions from ever apprehending their dark truths, I would like to point out a nagging problem to notions of democracy that this ‘spook protocol’ represents.
In the US, legislators are vested with public trust that they will uphold the will of the people. In fact, the whole body of government, from the TSA worker up to the President is tacitly under this social contract- to act in accord with the principles of democracy.
If the majority wills a vote against a policy, it is delineated within the intrinsics of government that that policy be discarded. If the public knows of an unpalatable problem of government, or a distasteful policy, then we are assured that our representatives will act on our behalf in relegating these policies to the scrap-pile of history. (See video below for invalidation of this idea)
But what if the public is not educated? What if the public is not aware of the illegal, if not morally reprehensible, operations that are conducted around the globe; funded by the hard earned tax dollars of Mr. and Mrs. USA?
Surely the public would be immediately informed on the less attractive activities of the CIA such as torture (i.e. enhanced interrogation), assassinations of political oppositions, and sundry wars of secrecy, right?
As already noted, some operations must be kept secret to guarantee security of the individuals and assets involved…
But if the public cannot know about these operations, then how can we be certain that our government represents the will of the people?
The origins and activities of the shinobi reflect the same secrecy protocol used by today’s clandestine services. Throughout their coveted texts is the referral to “oral transmission” or kuden, a Japanese colloquialism that connotes ‘secrets will only be revealed to the initiated’ and much like the ways of ninjutsu, agency subterfuge, subtle manipulation of the people through media, and military psychological operations, cannot fulfill their intended effects if a veil of secrecy about them cannot be maintained.
Putting it simply, a government ‘by the people’ simply cannot exist if we are left in the dark about what our representatives and public servants are up to. If we are uneducated, it is impossible to make informed judgement calls on the policy decisions of our governmental institutions.
Secrecy cuts in all ways.
Take it from a corrupt politician: It can protect our reputations, political operations, and even the cash revenues generated off of illegal projects. For military leaders, it can mean the difference between a successful mission or a disastrous defeat.
But for the American public, and the citizens of nations around the world, institutional secrecy can devolve the original foundations of democracy to the extent that a vote means nothing.
The shinobi understood the concept of power in secrecy very well:
There is power in secrecy, because the ultimate power of knowledge is cut from the heads of whom we are trying to keep secrets from.
Learn a trick from the CIA or NSA, the best manifestation of secrecy is to never give the slightest impression that something detestable is going on. The public has to wait for whistle-blowers to lift the veil.
I just think it is important for us to ask….
Do we participate in democracy or the illusion of democracy?