Transparency beyond imagination

تم نشره في Tue 17 June / Jun 2014. 07:48 PM

By Fahed Khitan


Many news sites, yesterday, published lists the names of hundreds of officers and non-commissioned officers and personnel from various military units in the armed forces, intelligence, artillery and other departments, in addition to other names of personnel of the intelligence apparatus and the public security. The reason is that they were royally decorated, in recognition of their efforts in the public service.

There is no disagreement in principle; the officers and members of the Arab army and security agencies deserve recognition everyday for the wonderful work they are doing in defense of the borders of the nation and its security.

But I have not heard before about the country that published, so publicly, the names (first name, father’s name, grandfather’s name, and surname) of officers in the army and intelligence services, in the media, in addition to the exact job description for each of them.

Quite simply, any hostile party can insert the full name if the person on a program and get the addresses of each of these officers and their license plate numbers, and it will get all the detailed information it could need, for free.

For years, the state banned the newspapers from publishing advertisements that congratulate an army or public security officers on a promotion. But the phenomenon has returned again, strongly, and we add it unprecedented dose of transparency; we published a complete and comprehensive lists of all the names, even for intelligence officers whose identity needs to remain a secret.

While transparency is sought and required by the state agencies in many things, they become harmful when it takes this form.

Perhaps the real irony is that the government institutions are stringent when it comes to providing information on ordinary topics of interest to the public, while tolerates leaking of lists such as those published yesterday; it affects the national security of the country, and endangers the lives of some of them, especially at this sensitive stage where security challenges are unprecedented for Jordan.

One manifestation of harmful transparency that emerged recently is the publishing of the name of the leaders of military formations in the news concerning the activities of their units, contrary to the past practice; the news were limited to the job description without mentioning the name of the person.

Yesterday, when we reviewed the lists of honorees, it looked really amazing, especially the interaction of some readers who competed in congratulating their relatives; they unveiled more information about them, and I imagined as if we were at a graduation ceremony for students of a school or a university.

There is a possibility that the news sites received the lists of honorees from the Official Gazette, which publishes the laws usually after the Royal Decree for their enactment, and the same for the promotions of officers, senior officials, and others. But in such cases, the action should have been private, and it would have been enough had they published the Royal Decree without details.

Secrecy surrounding the work and workers in the military and security apparatuses, lent a degree of prestige to them, and make the public feel the magnitude of the tasks performed by them.

Exaggerated openness as such, however, it is inevitably harmful, and not only does not help those institutions play their role, but even make them vulnerable and exposed.




This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition.