In August of 1822, James Madison, one of this nation's Founding Fathers, famously argued: "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

On the other hand, on January 6, 2017, a joint Intelligence Community Report ("IC Report"), entitled "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" explained: "The Intelligence Community rarely can publicly reveal the full extent of its knowledge or the precise bases for its assessments, as the release of such information would reveal sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence in the future."

There is a core conflict seen in those two quotes. What we see proclaimed in the IC Report is a direct collision between self-proclaimed national security interests and the public's right to know.

There is no question that Congress has both the Constitutional right and obligation to investigate "Russia-gate". It does so in accordance with its exceedingly broad powers of oversight that include the ability to "provide new statutory controls over the executive," executive accountability and to exercise its exclusive power of impeachment.

It is really not controversial to suggest, as did The Chicago Tribune, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and Adam Schiff (D-CA), that Congressional hearings be conducted either by an independent or select committee. But even if a reasonable level of investigative objectivity and integrity is achieved, the thorny question remains as to the extent to which such hearings, and testimony from witnesses, should be carried out in public.

It is a difficult issue that pits the public's right to know against (a) avoiding disclosure of classified information, and (b) compromising the ability of federal prosecutors to secure criminal convictions in their own parallel investigations...

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