Academic journal article Military Review

Secrecy Wars: National Security, Privacy, and the Public's Right to Know

Academic journal article Military Review

Secrecy Wars: National Security, Privacy, and the Public's Right to Know

Article excerpt

Philip H. Melanson, Brassey's Inc., Herndon, VA, 2001, 320 pages, $27.50.

In Secrecy Wars: National Security, Privacy, and the Public's Right to Know, Philip H. Melanson explains how citizens can access executive-branch information by understanding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act. He feels that every citizen should understand and use these methods of obtaining information as a check and balance to government authority.

Because of the conflict between government security and the public's fight-to-know, citizens must understand government issues so they can advise their legislators how to vote. Melanson, arguing that the executive branch might operate outside the law if not given some type of oversight, provides evidence of the government's inappropriate behavior by citing former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's targeting of Martin Luther King; former President Lyndon B. Johnson's lying to the American public during the Vietnam crisis; the lack of a thorough investigation into Robert Kennedy's assassination in 1968; and the use of intelligence assets to track domestic groups protesting the Vietnam war during the early 1970s.

Melanson acknowledges the need for government secrecy to protect national security and shows that across the executive branch, specifically the FBI and CIA, many agencies used the national-security stamp to hide mistakes and inappropriate behavior. When these agencies release information, complete pages are often blackened out. Also, the same request might result in receiving 20 pages of information one time and 3 pages the next, suggesting that there is no consistency in handling requests. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.