Howard Dean has excoriated the Bush administration, and specifically Dick Cheney, for keeping secret its deliberations while developing its energy policy. This meme has been beaten to death over the past couple of years. Ultimately, what’s important is the policy itself, and that’s not secret at all. However, the advice given to the executive is just that — advice — and there is no need to disclose the internal debate that helped develop the policy. In fact, that is the essence of executive privelege, the entire reason for its existence.
How nice, then, to discover that Howard Dean agrees — at least when he’s the executive:
Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean, who has criticized the Bush administration for refusing to release the deliberations of its energy policy task force, as governor of Vermont convened a similar panel that met in secret and angered state lawmakers. … In 1999, he offered the same argument the administration uses today for keeping deliberations of a policy task force secret.
“The governor needs to receive advice from time to time in closed session. As every person in government knows, sometimes you get more open discussion when it’s not public,” Dean was quoted as saying.
Yes, Governor, and the same thing is true for Presidents as well. Unless there is evidence of wrongdoing — and that is not the same as not liking the policy — then policy deliberations do not need to be disclosed. Since Howard Dean has been one of the most secretive Vermont governors in recent history, sealing his records for much longer than any of his predecessors, Dean makes an unlikely scold on the issue of openness. However, Dean manages to surpass his hypocrisy with his gall on a regular basis.