George Shultz’s Character Study of Robert Gates

George Shultz, one of our finest public servants, died last week at the age of 100. He held multiple high-level positions in Washington and, unlike most public servants, left a huge footprint wherever he served. As chief of the Office of Management and Budget, he made sure that the Nixon administration respected the importance of diversity and racial fairness; as Secretary of Labor, he established one of the government’s first affirmative action plans for minority employment at federally subsidized construction programs; as Secretary of the Treasury, he led the efforts of the Nixon administration to stabilize the international economy; and as Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, he contributed to ending the Cold War between Moscow and Washington and enhancing arms control and disarmament.

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Breaking the Addiction to Secrets and Secrecy

There is no question that the government must protect its sources and methods in the collection of intelligence. Regarding substance, however, I believe that, with the exception of details on weapons systems as well as on sensitive negotiations, there are few legitimate secrets and almost none that must remain classified for more than ten years at most. The secrecy that surrounded the Iran-Contra affair probably saved the Reagan presidency over the short term, but greater transparency would have prevented Iran-Contra from ever getting off the ground in the first place.

Harvard’s Kennedy School: Key Part Of The Military-Industrial Complex

Harvard’s Kennedy School’s denial of a fellowship to Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, because of his criticism of Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza is only the latest example of the corporate role played by Harvard’s most prestigious think tank on public policy.  Roth, who has spent the last three decades at HRW defending human rights around the world, was offered a senior fellowship at the School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.  It was quickly withdrawn.