Bush the nondiscloser

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When they hand out gold medals in history for secrecy in government, the Bush White House and its upper echelon have made their pitch for the award.

This reporter has covered or watched closely every administration since John F. Kennedy was elected in 1960. That would be nine administrations–five Republican and four Democratic.

And while each had at least some penchant for secrecy from time to time, the George W. Bush team has taken it to a new level. A good deal of the secrecy can be attributed to an intense dislike of the press. Bush seems to revel in it.

Every administration since JFK's short tenure had its share of run-ins with the press. It goes with the territory, but Bush's folks seem to have a perpetual bunker mentality in their dealings with reporters.

Often, this administration invokes national security as a reason for playing it inside the vest. And the continuous reference to 9/11 as a reason for actions is a popular refrain for being less than open.

It was the press that brought the horrors of the Abu Ghraib prison scandals to the public. The press also persevered to track the claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when the administration was still claiming they were stashed somewhere. Bush's aides are constantly critical of the lack of "good news" reporting from the war zones.

When the president delivers speeches on the road, the crowd is often selected beforehand to make certain it is friendly. It hasn't helped his approval ratings, which keep sinking in nearly every survey.

Vice President Cheney is even more secretive than his boss. His handling of the shooting incident in southern Texas was an affront to the White House press office. Cheney's handlers work overtime in their hostility to the intrusive media.

Recently, Cheney spoke at a GOP fundraiser in Washington with the doors shut to the press. Folks inside disclosed that Cheney delivered an attack on the New York Times for its reporting on the administration's surveillance system.

It is amusing to see Republicans blast the Times when, during the Clinton years, GOP figures would cite the Times as the authoritative source when it published reports of Clinton wrongdoing. If that isn't hypocrisy, what is?

Lyndon Johnson hated leaks so much that he sometimes postponed and pulled back announcements of appointments if the word got out. Richard Nixon had his enemies list of reporters he didn't like.

George W. Bush is surpassing their awkward actions with his own.