Omertà is based partly on fear and partly on idealism – it is an extreme form of loyalty and solidarity in the face of authority. One of its absolute tenets is that it is deeply demeaning and shameful to betray even one’s deadliest enemy to the authorities. Observers of the mafia debate whether omertà should best be understood as an expression of social consensus surrounding the mafia or whether it is instead a pragmatic response based primarily on fear. The point is succinctly made in a popular Sicilian proverb Cu e surdu, orbu e taci, campa cent’anni ‘mpaci (“He who is deaf, blind, and silent will live a hundred years in peace”).
For a bunch of Southern and New England WASPs; the Bush Administration has the whole Omertà thing down pat. Their disdain for government authority seems to be unaffected even when they actually are the government authorities.