Why You May Never Learn the Truth About Anything in Washington

I hang around some pretty intelligent people who have smart friends commenting on their facebook pages. The first part of this post is from a comment on Claude Scales’s Facebook page by William R. Everdell. I think it fits with the NYT article Claude referenced. The second part of this is a shorten version of the NYT Opinion article “Why You May Never Learn the Truth About ICE,” Matthew Connelly, Professor of History, Columbia.

George Orwell in “‘1984’, Winston Smith was dropping documents into the ‘memory hole’ by his desk at the Ministry of Truth – Minitrue

‘Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’

The Department of the Interior and the National Archives have decided to delete files on endangered species, offshore drilling inspections and the safety of drinking water.

This turns out to be just one action in a series of Trump administration attacks on the National Archives and the laws and funding supporting it, all of them aimed at preventing citizens of the republic learning from History.” William R. Everdell, Historian – Facebook

Examples of how this is happening have yet to be examined by Congressional Hearing.

Early in the new year, a photograph of the Women’s March – 2017 was put on display for the “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote,” exhibit. The photo was altered to purposely distort Trump’s name and any words “referencing female anatomy” on depicted posters. Archivist of the United States David Ferriero later apologized for the distortions.

The latest and not taken as important yet(?!) growing threat to the nation is the destruction of its capacity to document the news and records covering daily, ordinary, and potentially significant events. This is happening before our eyes while a distracted press, public, and Congress are concentrating on the immediate and obvious issues with the president, his illegal use of executive privilege, lies to conceal information based on national security excuses, and obstruction as aided and abetted by Republicans. Not noticed is the destruction of information before the press, citizens, government watchdogs, or historians see it. In particular;

  • President Trump tears up his papers and throws them away before documented. This action is a violation of the Presidential Records Act, put in place to prevent another Watergate – style cover-up. White House Records Management workers taped them back together again to make sure the president wasn’t violating the law and were summarily fired with no explanation.
  • A purposely underfunded “National Archives Can’t Keep Up With Incoming Records, Have Given Agencies Permission To Rewrite Their Own Histories.” In 2017 a records retention schedule released by the National Archives authorized officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to destroy documents detailing the sexual abuse and death of undocumented immigrants. ICE is destroying records from Mr. Trump’s first year which, included detainees’ complaints about civil rights violations and inadequate medical care.
  • The Department of the Interior and the National Archives decided to delete files on endangered species, offshore drilling inspections, and the safety of drinking water. In a case where it mismanaged Native American land and assets resulting in a multibillion – dollar legal settlement, the department decided it would be of no interest to future historians or anyone else.
  • The CIA has released fewer than 10% of an estimated 160 million paper – records to the National Archives. Virtually all the papers of the undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and environment are also being designated as “temporary,” despite the incredibly broad responsibilities of it  from international aviation safety to foreign takeovers of American firms.

The author; “It is hard to know why the government is not even holding on to records about antidumping efforts, or the protection of intellectual property, both of which fall under the new temporary status. It is perhaps easier to understand why the Trump administration wants to delete other records from the undersecretary’s office such as documents regarding the non-enforcement of “health, safety and environmental laws and regulations.”

I can think of a few names such as Zinke, Pruitt Mulvaney, Price, Haley, Sessions. Mc Gahn, etc. who would like to see documentation disappear into the “memory hole.”

It is also good news for anyone interested in evading economic sanctions, buying American strategic assets, selling us shoddy goods, stealing our intellectual property or violating aviation safety regulations. Now, even the court of history will be closed.

Other References: “Erasing History: The National Archives Is Destroying Records About Victims of Trump’s ICE Policies,”