Should Military Advice Be Given In Private?

We inhabit a world of the Internet in which everything said to a president shortly finds its way to public scrutiny in the name of “openness.” The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is probably the first in American history in which whatever was discussed with the president invariably finds itself into the public domain. If anything said to the president is soon known to the public, does this hinder honesty in telling the commander-in-chief what should or should not be done? Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates recently argued that advice to the president, should be done “candidly and privately.” National Security Adviser, James Jones believes advice should “come up through the chain of command.”

We believe the president is entitled to receive information in private because that allows individuals to speculate and urge radical ideas without being subjected to ridicule. All ideas should be presented and to accomplish that goal it must be done privately to ensure honesty. There is a difference between exchanging ideas and implementing policy.