In the open:

There is no end to the magnetic attraction of secrecy on government officials. So it is a healthy sign of democratic self-correction when the code of secrecy is set aside, as it was on Tuesday when, at the behest of CIA Director Michael Hayden, the agency declassified files on CIA abuses from the 1950s to the 1970s. Among these were a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro, subjecting unwitting subjects to LSD and the wiretapping of journalists. Then as now, the CIA was conducting illegal wiretaps of Americans. To uncover the source of leaks to newspapers, journalists and government officials were placed under 24-hour surveillance.

The parallels between those old transgressions and recent abuses countenanced by President George W Bush and members of his administration are not always exact. Nonetheless, there are enough similarities to cast light on the enduring temptation of secrecy-obsessed officials to trample on American liberties in the name of protecting them. Records of those old un-American activities were kept secret so long not merely to protect the reputation of officials

who have long since retired or died. The hiding of old abuses also makes it easier to forget how harmful and unnecessary they were. Secrecy about the past makes it easier for new generations of abusers to pursue new abuses. — The Boston Globe