Louis Dembitz Brandeis parents, Bohemian Jews came to America in 1848. In 1875, at the age of 18, Brandeis entered the Harvard Law School without a formal college degree. He was not the required age of 21 to receive a bachelor of law degree in 1877 so the Harvard Corporation gave him a special pass.
In 1879 Brandeis together with his classmate Samuel D. Warren wrote one of the most famous law articles in history, “The Right to Privacy,” published in December 1890 in the Harvard Law Review. They noted: “the right to life has come to mean the right to enjoy life, — the right to be let alone;” They went on to note: “the advance of civilization, made it clear to men that only a part of the pain, pleasure, and profit of life lay in physical things” They said the next step to protect people and for securing to the individual should be “what Judge Cooley calls the right “to be let alone”‘
Brandeis later wrote in the Supreme Court case of Olmstead v. United States (1928), that the makers of the Constitution, as evidence of their effort “to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations … conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone–the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.”
Brandeis was not only concerned with privacy, he was also a strong believer in an open government. In 1893 he wrote to a friend that he had been thinking, “about the wickedness of people shielding wrongdoers & passing them off (or at least allowing them to pass themselves off) as honest men.” He then proposed a remedy “If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.” He also said it another way: “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant and electric light the best policeman.”
Brandeis was a brilliant man. He cut right to the core of what is most important to a person in a civilized society: to be left alone and to know what those in public positions are doing. Elijah Adlow another brilliant and long-serving justice of the Boston Municipal Court pointed out: “the whole point of culture [is] to give everyone peace, quiet, and the right to enjoy life.” A person is only able to do this when she is knowledgeable about her government’s actions and left free from interference from the government and others.
Brandeis’s observation about the need for light on man’s actions is actually something we have known from childhood. Don’t most children prefer the light to the darkness? Those brought up with a knowledge of the Book have read in the Book of Genesis, 1:3, God said “Let there be light: and there was light.” In John 1 they have read of the Jesus as being the “true light, which enlightens every man that cometh into this world.” They also know standing in the other corner, as they’ve read in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book X, is Satan, called the Prince of Darkness.
Kevin Weeks tells us Whitey used to sleep most of the day and did most of his criminal acts under the cover of darkness, especially when the rain make things even more opaque. A study of 11 American cities has shown that 2 out of every 3 robberies occur at night.
“Night is the time for crime.
When good men sleep,
The robber’s bludgeon, the assassin’s knife,
Do Well their work — the guilty, blood-stained wretch
Forgetting that each star that shines above
Is but the eye of one who marks the deed!”
How many can identify with the following description from Nell Gwynne, or The Court of The Stuart:
“Still restless and uneasy, she sat upon the bed. Was it fancy, or did she, as she supposed, hear a footstep approaching? Her heart beat audibly. Suggestions of secret murders, and midnight violence — of deeds done at night, under the cover of darkness, which would shame and pollute the day, crowded her troubled mind, and swelled in her heaving bosom.”
We know that the six victims Whitey buried and were later disinterred were buried at night. It seems axiomatic that criminals want to hide things and that evil does its best in dark places. The corollary would seem to be that one interested in not being seen as evil would operate in the open.
You may have heard it said that: “Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.” That’s apparently what President Obama has stated.
How then explain the FBI? I’ve described it as a Black Hole. It operates in the dark responsible to no one. The one time we were able to look inside one office courtesy of Justice Mark Wolf things did not look pretty: when Congress did a follow up hearing on matters Judge Wolf touched upon it titled its report “Everything Secret Degenerates: The FBI’s Use of Murderers as Informants.”
Unfortunately Congress in its report stated: “perhaps the greatest tragedy of the Boston debacle is the doubt cast on the integrity of the men and women who work for the Justice Department and, particularly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation. . . . The integrity of the vast majority of these men and women is beyond reproach.”
Yes, I would like to think that also. But how do we know? We’ve only looked at one office and it was a mess. Not only that it continues to do with others the same thing it did with Whitey and Flemmi. And if it is so, how explain the FBI’s love of the darkness. It has become the least transparent agency in the government as well as the least responsive. Isn’t it about time it open itself up to others so we can see if we are being properly served?
By the way speaking of the FBI and Brandeis. the FBI had a file on him. So much for being left alone. But, as I mentioned before, at least it didn’t label him a Communist as it did two other Supreme Court Justices.