Yes, the question in the headline is rhetorical. We know that great efforts have been made and are continuing to be made not to reveal certain aspects of the financial crisis, and the only rationale that makes an iota of sense is the information would embarrass certain people in power.
The latest object lesson is the failure of the FCIC to post the full recording of its 2009 interview with Bernanke. The rationale is that the interviews contain “legal or proprietary information”, so it is being withheld for five years. Are these people unable to use a calendar? The critical phase of the crisis was pretty much over as of end of 2008. Any sensitive customer or transaction position information from that period is now stale. And if it really was sensitive (say it somehow fell in trade secret category), that means it would not be kosher to release it five years hence.
From Bloomberg (hat tip reader Steve A):
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, created by Congress to investigate and report on the causes of the market meltdown late last decade, won’t publicly release its full 2009 interview with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, a commission spokesman said.
The FCIC is withholding records when there is “legal or proprietary information in those interviews that meant they could not be made public,” or no audio, transcript or summary exists, Tucker Warren, the FCIC’s spokesman, said after the panel yesterday released more than 300 witness interviews. He declined to elaborate on Bernanke. The interview is among records being transferred to the National Archives that will be made public in five years, Warren said.
“There’s absolutely no reason to hold it,” unless it contains proprietary details about banks or international trading, said University of Texas Professor Robert Auerbach in Austin, a former congressional economist and author of the 2008 book “Deception and Abuse at the Fed.” “Bernanke will be long gone when it comes out, and that’s not a way to establish responsibility,” Auerbach said…
The FCIC’s meeting with Bernanke lasted 90 minutes and was held at the commission’s eighth-floor office near the White House, according to Bernanke’s daybook from the Fed.
“There are others that are at a Bernanke level that won’t be made public as well,” Warren said. “Bernanke is not being singled out in that regard.”
And notice we don’t even know how many additional interviews are being withheld. The only reason we know about the Bernanke chit chat is that it is referenced in FCIC footnotes, and it apparently the only “closed door” session referred to in the report.
So much for the promise of greater transparency at the Fed.