Sunday, October 4, 2015
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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

The President’s Pants and Other State Secrets

Inside Washington

How much information is too much?

By Jim Ray

Why would presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton risk her political future by installing a private computer server in her Chappaqua, New York home and then using it—illegally, many say—to conduct official business? For the answer, you need look no further than LBJ’s pants.

Granted, it’s a peculiar response. After all, Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidency was half a century ago, and his choice of apparel hardly seems relevant. But, thanks to the public release of long-private White House telephone recordings virtually unimaginable in LBJ’s day, anyone can now go online and hear the thirty-sixth President calling clothier Joe Haggar to order several pairs of custom slacks … a conversation peppered with LBJ’s characteristic crude and graphic dialogue. Now, the Obama Administration is raising eyebrows by releasing a new trove of secret dossiers few expected to ever see the light of day. But is this document-dump handing too much information to America’s enemies?

The public dissemination of LBJ’s disconcerting pants purchase illustrates how modern technology and evolving standards of transparency can resurrect what would otherwise be long-forgotten. But more than that, it’s a reinforcement of what Jesus said in Luke 12:2: “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

As for Hillary Clinton, she knows from experience what LBJ didn’t: that any “secrets” the government keeps will eventually—inevitably—be splayed out for public consumption. That, logic dictates, is why she sought to store data privately. In 1974, in fact, Clinton was a member of the presidential impeachment inquiry staff during Watergate—another episode involving “secret” recordings—that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency.

This time, it is the President himself who is releasing the information—although the intelligence involves his predecessors. Under White House orders, the CIA last month released 2,500 documents known as Presidents’ Daily Briefs, or “PDBs.” Beginning with the Truman Administration, every one of the nation’s chief executives have received a top secret document each morning, compiled by various intelligence agencies and presented by the CIA, detailing world developments and global threats.

Until now the CIA and others have doggedly maintained that these dossiers should remain private, even if much of the information they contain is decades old and now well-known. “Disclosure of a large mosaic of the most important intelligence available to the United States government,” argued Justice Department lawyers in 2005, would “reveal sensitive information about the intelligence process and would therefore cripple U.S. intelligence-gathering and analytic capabilities.” They further stated that “compelled disclosure could also have a chilling effect on the quality of the PDB as a document used to advise the President” because those producing it might provide “more qualified or less candid advice” knowing it would one day be made public.

Many historians, academics and liberal thinkers disagree, as does President Obama. “Our national security depends on protecting the intelligence that saves lives,” he acknowledged recently, but then added that “democracy depends on transparency for its citizens to make informed judgments.”

A review of many of the PDBs released, which are from the administrations of John F. Kennedy and LBJ, suggest there is not much there to compromise current national security. Material still considered sensitive has been redacted, and the balance is replete with summaries on now-dormant diplomatic issues, now-extinct foreign governments and now-deceased world leaders. But has a door been now thrust open that will imperil America’s future safety?

Secrets and subterfuge are essential to combating a nation’s enemies. But deciding just how much of it is justified, and for how long, remains a question without a clear answer. What is sure, however, is that the people elected and appointed to be entrusted with national secrets must be honorable and God-fearing. That is where your prayers and your advocacy come in.

And may it be remembered by authorities and citizens alike that an accounting is coming, “on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:16) This is a matter of far greater import than LBJ’s choice of pants.


Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN. 

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