The Government that cried secret

I was thinking more about this whole Wikileaks and Afghanistan thing yesterday afternoon while driving home listening to the NPR story about it.  The things is, the government always decries how horrible these leaks are, but what we’ve seen here is that there’s really not so much that seems it should actually be secret.  It seems this is quite often the case.  Other times, the sort of things the government is hiding, e.g., the Pentagon Papers, or Reynolds v. US, is secret because it will embarrass the government, not because it’s any way a real threat to our security if the information comes out.  So, basically, the government has very little credibility when it comes to this whole secrecy thing.  It’s always crying “secret” without a truly compelling reason.  The result is that we increasingly don’t take the government seriously on these matters and that people are presumably ever more ready to leak, because it never seems to cause real harm (and thus, some day it might).  Seems to me much better to save “secret” for stuff that actually is.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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