It’s a critical question today as well.
Now we are in even more dangerous territory with President Trump and Attorney General Sessions announcing a new concerted effort to crack down on leakers.
Yes, revealing secrets that genuinely threaten national security is a concern.
But I have come to believe that our default position should be more openness and transparency -- not only by our government, but in our personal relationships as well.
The only way to rebuild and keep trust is to be open and honest.
Let's take the current situation with President Trump and this White House and explore some key takeaways:
1. Before we start prosecuting leakers, I would like to know, what is the real significance and effect of the leaks on national security concerns? I don't accept the knee-jerk response that any leak is damaging to national security. Americans are not dumb. We can understand an explanation and evaluate its truthfulness. If leaks don't have clear national security concerns, then why is the release of information to the public a threat? Let's be transparent and let the American public decide.
3. The Washington Post published transcripts of phone conversations President Trump had with the heads of Mexico and Australia, and administration officials screamed long and loud about how awful this was and how it would undermine our relationships with foreign leaders. Truly, if you read these transcripts, one is left with the conclusion that it wasn't the leak of these transcripts which damaged our relations, but rather the actual words and actions of this president. Foreign leaders, I am sure, are less worried about leaks than they are about what President Trump is doing and saying.
I have argued many times that our current mode of politics and governance is broken.
We need to start concentrating less on the ends and more on fixing the means. And the place to begin is by bringing more integrity to all interactions, especially with the government's keeping citizens informed. As I wrote in that National Journal article years ago, this is a bipartisan problem -- both parties withhold information and do their best to crack down on leakers.
Let's end this strategy and begin to rebuild trust in our institutions. Yes, national security is an important concern, but let's celebrate a robust media and not make criminals out of leakers who often serve a higher purpose.
We should start with more openness and transparency among our public officials. We are big boys and girls; we can handle the truth.