When Can Government Officials Lie?

Topics: Official, Diplomacy, Lie Pages: 4 (1378 words) Published: February 20, 2013
Public officials should always tell the truth in the performance of their official duties, except for very few occasions:“a crisis where overwhelming harm can be averted only through deceit; complete harmlessness and triviality to the point where it seems absurd to quibble about whether a lie has been told; and the duty to particular individuals to protect their secrets.[1]” as Sissela Bok stated. In addition to national crisis, negligible trivialities and confidentiality, ongoing operation, government intention, details of murder/suicide, morale, certain circumstances in diplomacy might also justify the lies said by public officials.

On-operations should sometimes be kept secret in case the “enemies” be aware of the operation and prepare for counter strategies. For example, President Obama must have known the location where Osama Bin Laden hidden beforehand, the fact that he knew about the location and where the location is should be kept as the highest level secret until the day the suspect is killed. The on-going FBI investigations towards criminals and government officials should be kept confidential too. Once the suspects know about these investigations, they can stop committing crime or flee to another country and government officials will deny this kind of on-going operations or investigations.

The government should be very careful when dealing with situations when government interventions might cause unfair opportunities among citizens or other secondary effects. For example, when the government decided to not bail out Lehman Brothers, the entire financial system froze and the price of gold soured instantly after the news. But if some people (assuming those who constantly pay attention to financial news) ahead of others have known about the government’s inaction would make a huge amount of money by investing gold. Also, in China, the traffic congestion is so severe in the big cities that the city governments decided to start a lottery to allocate...
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