The Pentagon has ordered an independent federal auditor to stop providing the public with key information about U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan
by John Perkins
( February 7, 2018, Boston, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Harvard Business Review recently reported that, since the October allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, nearly 100 other powerful people – “names you probably recognize” – have been accused of sexual harassment, rape, and other misconduct. (1) These revelations follow the avalanche of accusations against Catholic priests and their superiors that have been sweeping the press for years.
The stories of crimes involving sex accompany revelations about police brutality across the United States, a slew of leaked documents concerning covert and illegal CIA and NSA activities from WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden, exposures of illegal financial dealings of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people in the Panama Papers, and numerous other exposes by whistleblowers who have revealed criminal activities in politics, healthcare, technology, media, education, banking, pharmaceuticals, hospitality, and entertainment.
All of this is extremely important. It also highlights the significance of transparency throughout our institutions. It shouts at us all, a loud and clear call that it is high time for the United States and the rest of the world to hold responsible those who use their positions of power and prestige to exploit others or to perpetuate illegal activities.
Let this be the time then when we also demand that those in Congress and the White House come clean. While applauding the revelations mentioned above, at the same time we in the US seem to be tolerating a darker side of politics.
Why, we must ask ourselves, do bankers and Wall Street executives not just escape punishment when their companies are found guilty of crimes that impact millions of people, but in fact get rewarded with huge bonuses? Why is a US President allowed to refuse to share his tax statements? Why is our media unable to report body counts or show the corpses returning from the Middle East – when such images had a powerful impact during the Vietnam War. Why do we know so little about what our sons and daughters – men and women in the US military – are doing in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America?
One recent example of a significant step backward in transparency was reported by CBS News on January 30, 2018:
The Pentagon has ordered an independent federal auditor to stop providing the public with key information about U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan. . .
The auditing agency, established by Congress and known as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, revealed the new gag order in its latest three-month assessment of conditions in Afghanistan. The restrictions fly in the face of Pentagon assertions over the past year that it was striving to be more transparent about the U.S. war campaigns across Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. (2)
As I’ve written often, we are at the beginning of a Consciousness Revolution – and part of this is an awakening to a new sense of conscience – both personal and collective. We are understanding that transparency is required of individuals and institutions if we are to succeed on a planet that is a fragile space station dominated by a species that has shown itself capable of tolerating leaders like Hitler, Stalin, and Pinochet, and of turning a blind eye for so many years on the Harvey Weinsteins and Larry Nassars of the world.
Let us learn from those who tolerated the mass-murdering dictators, the sex criminals, and the corporate robber barons that we cannot tolerate our own inclinations to remain silent. It is up to each and every one of us to speak out and to take action. In the words of a woman – an executive at a Fortune 100 corporation – who attended a workshop where I recently taught:
“What I struggle with is the “how.” How do we demand transparency from our elected officials? It seems to many of us that our politicians don’t really have to do anything – except win the next election.
The real power is for each of us is to begin to step up, like one person starting the #MeToo movement. The power of individuals is to speak out, whether in corporate America, your hometown, or family. It seems that politicians seeing the fall of others, or the risk of hiding, is the only way to make change.
The challenge for each one of us who has turned away from disclosing something, out of fear of retribution or the belief we cannot make a difference, is to step forward and speak out. Maybe it’s about our city government when we suspect corruption, or national policies in the Middle East – or a local school board issue. . . The important thing is to speak out.
I know people fear losing their jobs, but what happened with Weinstein shows that speaking out can work. It requires us to be brave. Courage is not the lack of fear; it is facing and overcoming fear, because we know that it is the right thing to do.
It’s interesting because I see some of it at my work. The equal pay and opportunity for women is an issue. I hide behind the fact that I have done well, I get paid a decent salary, it’s a good company. . . so don’t complain. Besides, it would be really uncomfortable and there would probably be retribution. But I’m observing and wrestling with the excuses I make. I look in the mirror and I see that it is up to that facing staring back at me to make change happen. I owe it to my daughters. I owe it to myself.”
At this historical moment of revelations, let us each look in the mirror. Let us each identify an issue that bothers us. Let us speak out.