There is always a small clutch of staff that a President trusts above all others. The pressures to make difficult decisions from among often not-very-good choices, in time spans that are at a minimum stupid, and at a maximum deadly weighs upon every President and getting information - often in the shorthand that long-time associates adopt - from trusted sources becomes the standard operating procedure.
From where the Closed Circle is getting their information becomes part of the sequence. If the outside source is trusted, then it makes it through the Closed Circle membrane and is passed on to the President (or the Speaker, or the Chairman of the Board). If not, the Circle quickly closes and that source will never be heard from again; sucked into the black hole.
The danger of the Closed Circle Syndrome is that the same ideas get recycled being presented with different heading, in a different font, but containing nothing new.
President Obama, a few days ago, made a major announcement regarding the expiration of the "Bush-era tax cuts."
This was a perfect example of the Closed Circle Syndrome: Absolutely nothing new in the thinking, no new strategic direction, and no expectation of a different outcome (which, in this case is nothing).
Yet, the members of the Closed Circle got to send out orders, demand briefing papers, edit press releases and official statements, and generate activity at the campaign headquarters in Chicago.
Too often the Closed Circle Syndrome mistakes activity for progress.
As in the Penn State scandal, the Close Circle Syndrome produces few winners, but many losers. Lives are ruined. Careers are wrecked. Jobs are lost. Businesses fail.
The best cure for the Closed Circle Syndrome is to follow the advice of those gurus of high finance and business, James Rado & Gerome Ragni, and Galt MacDermot who wrote the words and music for Hair: "Let the Sunshine In."
Easier said than done.
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