Two modes of government are doing battle in America today. The issue of secrecy in government has never been more important. Few Americans realize how radically the Bush Administration changed our systems and processes in order to deny the average American citizen access to information about what the government is doing in our name!

The leaks about secret prisons being run by the CIA around the world has produced near hysteria in Bush Republican circles. Republicans seem to be spinning the controversy into a scandal about leaks. The actual scandal focus should be almost exclusively focused on secret prisons.

Secret prisons are totally against American legal traditions. Europeans nations in several countries are investigating criminally these activities by our government. Dictatorships like the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq routinely operated secret prisons. The United States should not be engaged in this kind of behavior. The behavior should not be hidden from the American voters. The government personnel responsible for this behavior should be fired and possibly prosecuted. Tolerating secret prisons operated by our government is a giant step toward destroying American Democracy and American Freedom.

The issuing of tens of thousand of secret security letters by the Bush Administration completely without court supervision is a complete abuse of power. It is very similar to the abusive behavior of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. The government should not be creating secret files on citizens who are completely innocent of ties to terrorism. It looks like a mechanism for creating an enemies list of domestic political opponents. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security should not be spying on American political activists who are clearly not tied to terrorism.

The public needs to be informed of the activities of these organizations in order to guarantee they are not being abused for partisan political purposes. Secrecy is essential to the creation of an American dictatorship. Our government should never be permitted to operate secretly. The risk is great and should not be tolerated.

Financial corruption flourishes in a climate of secret government. The Cheney Energy Taskforce met in secret with executives of oil companies. The Bush Administration has blocked American citizens from knowing what was discussed in the White House in these meetings. Critics naturally suspect collusion between Cheney and the Oil Industry. Was government Energy policy designed to profit specific private oil companies? Was the invasion of Iraq discussed in these meetings which were held before the 9-11 terrorist attacks? Was the oil pipeline negotiations between the Bush Administration and the Taliban in Afghanistan discussed? Did the Bush Administration have advance knowledge about the then upcoming California Energy Crisis? Did the oil company executives suggest specific appointments to government regulatory agencies? Were political campaign donations discussed? American citizens should have the right to have these questions answered!

By Executive Order, the Bush Administration has blocked public access to the Presidential papers of the Reagan and first Bush Administration. This writer believes that illegal and/or embarrassing activities are being concealed from the American voting public concerning the Iran-Contra scandal (along with other issues) by important Republican figures. The voters have the right to information about government actions and actors. These activities were paid for with public tax dollars. These government actors were being paid by taxpayers.

The falsely named Patriot Act should be repealed. It is not needed to fight terrorism. It has a high potential for abuse. It is a waste of government resources. It goes against all the ideals of our Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. It is simply un-American.

At the core of the conflict is the difference between having a government of elites that rule over our citizens or one that represents the interests and opinions of our citizens. We do not need a new King George or a Wall Street-Republican aristocracy to rule over the American nation. We need a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We need to trust democracy and promote open, clean government.

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio ).