Review: Secrets and Leaks – The Dilemma of State Secrecy

5 Star, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Rahul Sagar

5.0 out of 5 stars Highlights from Steven Aftergood’s Review at Lawfare, April 9, 2014

I tried to prevail on Steven Aftergood to repost his rave review at Lawfare here but for various reasons that was not possible. I’ve looked at this book but Steven is vastly superior to me in his contextual appraisal so below I offer both a fast means of finding Stevens review and three highlights in Steven’s words, with some additional Amazon links and my own conclusions based on 40 years as an intelligence professional and 20 years as a proponent for intelligence reform.

Find the full review online by searching for three words together not in quotes: Lawfare Aftergood Sagar

Three Highlights:

QUOTE: Sagar makes a fresh, original and provocative contribution to the field. Our problems with secrecy, he says, are not simply attributable to official venality or mismanagement (or to the Espionage Act or the Manhattan Project) but instead are rooted in our constitutional structure. And leaks of classified information are not necessarily a lamentable deviation from good government but are — within certain limits — an essential safeguard that should be defended and encouraged.

QUOTE: Only leaks, he argues, have the potential to overcome the otherwise unresolved tensions over disclosure of national security information that are the legacy of our constitutional design.

QUOTE: In the end, following a detailed and critically nuanced discussion, Sagar concludes that leakers can be morally justified in making an unauthorized disclosure of classified information in violation of the law if the disclosure meets the following five conditions:

It “(a) reveals an abuse of public authority; (b) is based on clear and convincing evidence; (c) does not pose a disproportionate threat to public safety; (d) is limited in scope and scale as far as is possible; and (e) is made publicly.”

Steven’s full review adds at least another seven key points to the three above and whether you take the time to search for < Lawfare Aftergood Sagar > and read his full review or not, I will stipulate that Steven and I both recommend this book for purchase and use in classrooms and citizen study groups.

Just yesterday I was interviewed by Al Jazeera USA on torture and secrecy, and one of the points I made (a point I also made in my invited testimony to the Secrecy Commission led by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY-RIP)), is that the US secret world has become a bureaucracy that lives immunity and impunity and has lost all sense of purpose and all sense of propriety and responsibility to the public, the government it is supposed to serve, and the public it is supposed to protect. The needs to know of the President himself, routinely lied to by CIA and NSA, of the Congress, the media, and the public, are literally dismissed by a melange of out of control pasty faced bureaucrats who have, as Victor Marchetti articulated so well in a book that has evidently been dropped by Amazon, “The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence” become a cult oblivious to all external professional, moral, and legal constraints  — I refer to managers, not the vast majority of good people trapped in this very bad system.

Here are ten other books that complement this one, my link limit.

Report of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy : pursuant to Public Law 236, 103rd Congress
Secrecy: The American Experience
Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry
Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq
Nation of Secrets: The Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life
The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power (Discovering America)
The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World
The Shadow Factory: The NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America

For my linked list of over 300 books on intelligence search for Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Government Secret Intelligence. I also recommend my linked lists Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corruption 2.0 and Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Democracy Lost & Found as well as Worth a Look: Recent Books on 10 High Level Threats. The US secret world today is a contracting cesspool — a secret pork pie — of no substantive value to the US taxpayer. My many publications on how to get it right are easily found, along with the work of over 800 other authors, at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog. I am available to speak on these matters to any audience anywhere.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World
Foreword by Senator David Boren (D-OK)

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