Sunlight: Still the Best Disinfectant
January 1954 — Pathfinder ... The Town Journal

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | October 14, 2019                      

"Why does Obama believe he shouldn't comply with record releases that his predecessors did of their own volition? Hiding something?" (Donald J. Trump tweet, October 30, 2012) Lack of transparency in government, a perennially relevant dilemma in American politics, has returned with a vengeance.

On Capitol Hill, impeachment inquiry hearings have begun investigating President Donald Trump’s unconstitutional dealings with Ukraine (quid pro quo?), while House Democrats battle with Trump to force the release of his super-secret tax returns and other financial records. What does he have to hide?

The following 1954 lead editorial appeared in Pathfinder ... The Town Journal, a monthly magazine with a circulation of over 1,450,000 at the time. Pennsylvania based Farm Journal, Inc. acquired The Pathfinder weekly in 1943 and later merged it with its new monthly, subscription-only publication.

United States media archive

The unpardonable sin

The disloyal are dead set against Congressional investigations. They can work only in the dark. Crooks hate investigations. Partisans of the “outs” cannot be expected to approve inquiries which may expose the errors of their days in power. Consequently, every productive investigation by committees of Congress provokes howling opposition.

The basic purpose of all Congressional investigations is to establish facts so that better laws can be drawn. The Committees are not courts, although they do sometimes turn up evidence with which courts can send criminals from public office to jail. Their real job is to turn on the light.

Now that his government has grown big and complex, no citizen can hope to know all that government does. With a free press he has some assurance that most significant information will be made public. However, the press, even if it were more alert and energetic, can not hope to explore all the dark corners. The powerful searchlights of Congressional investigations can reach into hidden files and can illuminate the darkest passages. What the investigations bring to light the press will report.

Neither wrong-doing nor treason nor tyranny can stand the bright lights of public knowledge. They can thrive only in secrecy.

Needless secrecy, then, becomes the unpardonable sin in government. Permit secrecy in government to have its way and wrong-doing becomes easy. Disloyalty can escape detection. Tyranny inevitably will proceed to infringe upon liberty.

Let Congressional inquiry be relentless and persistent. Honesty does not need to hide. Decent patriots have nothing to conceal.

2021: The Year of the American Coup
Heartless: Donald J. Trump | Brainless: Shaban Jafari


Related links:

Congress Is Over the President | May 1952 Letter to the Editor

Some Resolutions | The Salt Lake Tribune (Jan. 6, 1952 letter)

Reader Agrees With Jst. William O. Douglas | The Spokesman-Review (June 1952 letter)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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