A Culture of Secrecy
The Government Versus the People's Right to Know
Edited by Athan G. Theoharis
The government is hiding information from its citizens—or so most Americans believe. While even some members of Congress now call for greater access to classified documents, federal agencies continue to withhold a massive amount of information in the name of national security, maintaining a culture of secrecy rooted in the Cold War.
This new book examines who in government is hiding what from the rest of us, how they're doing it, and why it should matter to all of us. Contributing scholars, journalists, and attorneys survey the policies of federal intelligence agencies and presidents—notably Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton-to keep information secret. They show how these agencies have gone far beyond legitimate security needs to withhold information, and they describe the frustrations and costs encountered in their own efforts to obtain classified information.
“The volume successfully argues for a more honest declassification of records and alerts scholars and general readers to the scandalous offenses of government gatekeepers.”
“Theoharis and the contributors to his volume make a valuable contribution to the antisecrecy counterculture.”
—Journal of American HistorySee all reviews...
“Every essay is unrelentingly trenchant in portraying the baneful nature of a pervasive bureaucratic apparatichik determined to keep the American people in dark&mdeash;and in suspicion of all manner of conspiracies.”
—Journal of Interdisciplinary History
“For the historian, journalist, or lawyer interested in making use of the FOIA, Executive Order 12958, or other similar vehicles of declassification, the essays in A Culture of Secrecy should be an invaluable reference.”
—The Public Historian
“A provocative volume that delivers a cautionary shot across the bow for journalists, scholars, and every citizen dedicated to responsible government. It brings into sharp focus the current bureaucratic wars pitting the public’s right to know against government spinmasters who hide and warp the truth by overclassifying documents that rightfully belong to the people.”
—Seymour M. Hersh, author of The Dark Side of Camelot
“This is the best file ever assembled about our government’s unconscionable attempts to keep its secrets from the people. The so-called intelligence community has been insulting the rest of us for decades. The documentation is all here. Now it’s up to the rest of us to do something about it.”
—Victor Navasky, publisher and editorial director, The Nation
“Fills a huge gap in America’s understanding of how the Freedom of Information Act actually works (or doesn’t). Scholars have long needed such a volume, while general readers will be scandalized by its revelations.”
—John Prados, author of Presidents’ Secret Wars
“A major work exposing the gatekeepers of America’s Secret History, and an important resource for those still searching for the truth.”
—Oliver StoneSee fewer reviews...
The authors review important cases exemplifying State Department, agency, and presidential efforts to withhold, destroy, or delay release of these records. In chapters centering on the Kennedy assassination, the Nixon tapes, and the FBI's files on John Lennon and the Supreme Court justices, readers will find an abundance of startling and disturbing revelations. By citing some of the methods used by agencies like the CIA, NSA, NSC, and FBI to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act—often with the cooperation of the judicial system—these essays clearly show that abuses of secrecy aren't limited to the withholding of information but extend to the absurd lengths taken to avoid disclosure.