Allen Dulles, the longest-serving CIA director of intelligence, was the son of a Presbyterian minister, and he insisted that the words of John 8:32 – “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” – be the CIA’s motto. He even had the message inscribed around the CIA’s Great Seal in the main lobby of what is now known as the “old” CIA Headquarters Building in Langley, Va.

Allen Dulles, the longest-serving CIA director of intelligence, was the son of a Presbyterian minister, and he insisted that the words of John 8:32 – “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” – be the CIA’s motto. He even had the message inscribed around the CIA’s Great Seal in the main lobby of what is now known as the “old” CIA Headquarters Building in Langley, Va.

Having served for several years under Dulles, I greatly admired, and still do, the sentiment embodied in John’s quotation. However, John failed to tell us was that “knowing” and “telling” the truth are two different things – particularly in politics and religion. For example, most seminary-trained ministers know that none of the gospels were actually written by Christ’s original apostles, but few ministers are foolhardy enough to say that over the pulpit.

In a like manner, most Americans believe in “freedom of the press.” But old Western movies taught us that brave editors, who spoke the truth, often had their presses destroyed.  

Rabbi Lerner, editor of Tikkun, the largest liberal/progressive Jewish on-line and in print magazine in the entire world, knows this all too well. His home was recently assaulted for the third time by Zionist extremists just a day after he presented the Tikkun Award to South African Justice Richard Goldstone, author of the report on Israel’s human rights violations during the Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. While the Goldstone Report is widely lauded as factual, it was strongly denounced by the state of Israel and the American/Israel Political Action Committee.

There is no reason to believe American Zionists condone the boorish behavior against Rabbi Lerner. In fact, the Board of Rabbis of Northern California and other Jewish leaders immediately condemned these attacks. As with most people, they support the right, even the obligation, for those who feel they know something to be true should be free to express their views openly and not be reticent based on fears of possible injury to themselves. Nevertheless, as noted in a recent column in The Examiner, I still feel the U.S. Supreme Court erred through not knowing the limits of what is legal or illegal in the exercise of “free speech.”

Just as most of us were thrilled when the good editor, depicted in the old movies, turned out to be the hero, most of us welcome less acrimonious, and more civil, congressional debates. Also, most of us feel that our country’s shift from giving aid and support to several of the world’s well-known dictators is a step in the right direction. The lesson we are learning is that in today’s world simply “touting democracy” but preferring “stability at any cost” is no longer a viable or attractive international policy.  

Allowing truth to see the light of day – whether by a young American soldier protesting the killing of innocent civilians in Iraq or the unwise actions being perpetrated against Palestinians by Israelis – we should be on the side of truth even if it means supporting whistleblowers. The way to develop a more “perfect union” in our beloved America, and also be a more effective advocate for peace throughout the world, is through more, not less, transparency at all levels of government.