Bewildering Stories Editorial
The Security Debate
by Don Webb
“Any story based on current events is out of date before it’s written.”
“There is no story so truly Bewildering as reality.” — BwS mottoes
Ed Coet, a veteran contributor to BwS, has apparently published an article about some of the more esoteric aspects of U.S. government security classifications and their possible political implications. I have since received a stream of e-mails addressed to Mr. Coet, and I have forwarded them all. However, one message has come addressed to BwS, and it is owed a response.
Mr. Webb, [I] read Coet’s comments yesterday. [...] Major Coet was spot on with divulging additional information. I wrote the enclosed Oped out of frustration but it seems it’s been good enough to garner 106K likes. Please feel free to reprint the opinion or not.
For the record: Mr. Coet apparently holds the rank of major in the U.S. military; the author of the excerpt quoted holds an even higher rank.
I don’t know where Major Coet’s article was published. I do know it was not in our on-line journal. But I can imagine why I’m getting so much e-mail about it from different sources: several people wishing to respond have evidently done a Net search for his name. Consequently, BwS has become a point of first contact.
I’m happy to oblige, but BwS will not take part in the discussion. Here’s why: If I were being interviewed as a prospective juror in a trial, how should I answer the question “Do you think the accused is innocent or guilty?” The answer “Innocent until proven guilty” quotes a commonplace. Equally correct, from a prospective juror’s standpoint: “I have no opinion; I don’t know all the facts.” The issue of official security classifications is part of one or more legal cases in which I do not know all the facts.
Our journal is not a news magazine or newspaper. We do not publish editorials of political opinion. However, literature, by its very nature, may have political content and often does. Accordingly, BwS takes the long view.
For example, James J. O’Donnell’s history The Ruin of the Roman Empire implicitly compares the USA in the 21st century to the Roman Empire on the eve of the Dark Ages. And Professor O’Donnell is far from the only one to draw such parallels. Then as now, security was a prime concern; it’s just more bureaucratic today than it was fifteen centuries ago.
Legal cases may be of interest as literature, when they’ve become history. And in history as in law, we may know most of the facts, even the most important ones. But do we ever know them all?
History is made by historians. We can well afford to wait.
Copyright © 2016 by Don Webb
for Bewildering Stories