Editorial: SMU has difficult decision to make
Stephen F. Austin University Pine Log
March 5, 2007
For the United States, as a democratic society, to continue to be a primary example of intellectual innovation and progress, a free exchange of ideas is absolutely necessary. Since the inception of our country, we have been a major contributor to global intellectual discourse and have worked hard to spread ideas we champion. We have endured considerable costs – blood spilled, money spent and allies lost – to spread capitalism and democracy. From the days of bona fide American imperialism to the present form of economic neo-imperialism, we have spared no effort to make sure that there are more of “us” than “them” – and we’ve done a damn good job of it. These tenets of American political culture could never have developed without a healthy exchange of ideas and opinion.
Sadly, the very process that produced the ideas we hold so dear is being stifled. Little more than five years ago, President Bush issued an executive order granting himself – and former presidents – executive authority over their presidential papers. The order circumvents both the Freedom of Information Act and the Presidential Records Act, passed in 1974 and 1978, respectively. The PRA, which was passed to defy Richard Nixon’s attempt to bury embarrassing documents and recordings, made presidential papers and recording property of the government and not the president in question. Simply put, the bill made presidential papers a matter of public record. Without access to documents, it becomes much more difficult to learn from our nation’s mistakes – of which Bush can claim many – and to accurately write history.