Pub. Date:
University Press of Kansas
Culture of Secrecy: The Government Versus the People's Right to Know

Culture of Secrecy: The Government Versus the People's Right to Know

by Athan G. Theoharis


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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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780700608805
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
Publication date: 04/06/1998
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.34(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.04(d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction, Athan G. Theoharis
2. The Freedom of Information Act Versus the FBI, Athan G. Theoharis
3. The CIA and Secrecy, James X. Dempsey
4. "Not So Anonymous": Parting the Veil of Secrecy About the National Security Agency, Matthew M. Aid
5. "National Security" and Freedom of Information: The John Lennon FBI Files, Jon Wiener
6. Playing the Information Game: How It Took Thirteen Years and Two Lawsuits to Get J. Edgar Hoover's Secret Supreme Court Sex Files, Alexander Charns and Paul M. Green
7. The Endless Saga of the Nixon Tapes, Joan Hoff
8. The War over Secrecy: Democracy's Most Important Low-Intensity Conflict, Scott Armstrong
9. We Can't Yet Read Our Own Mail: Access to the Records of the Department of State, Page Putnam Miller
10. The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board, Anna Kasten Nelson

What People are Saying About This

Seymour M. Hersh

Briings 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. -- Author of The Dark Side of Camelot

Victor Navasky

This is the best file ever assembled about our government's unconscionable attempts to keep its secrets from the people. -- Publisher & Editorial Director of The Nation

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