Synopses & Reviews
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, chairman of the bipartisan Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, here presents an eloquent and fascinating account of the development of secrecy as a mode of regulation in American government since World War I--how it was born, how world events shaped it, how it has adversely affected momentous political decisions and events, and how it has eluded efforts to curtail or end it. Senator Moynihan begins by recounting the astonishing story of the Venona project, in which Soviet cables sent to the United States during World War II were decrypted by the U.S. Army--but were never passed on to President Truman. The divisive Hiss perjury trial and the McCarthy era of suspicion might have had a far different impact on American society, says Moynihan, if government agencies had not kept secrets from one another as a means of shoring up their power. Moynihan points to many other examples of how government bureaucracies used secrecy to avoid public scrutiny and got into trouble as a result. He discusses the Bay of Pigs, Watergate, the Iran-Contra affair, and, finally, the failure to forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union, suggesting that many of the tragedies resulting from these events could have been averted had the issues been clarified in an open exchange of ideas. America must lead the way to an era of openness, says Moynihan in this vitally important book. It is time to dismantle the excesses of government secrecy and share information with our citizens and with the world. Analysis, far more than secrecy, is the key to national security.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan here presents a fascinating account of the development of secrecy as a mode of regulation in American government since World War I-how it was born, how world events shaped it, how it has adversely affected momentous political decisions and events, and how it has eluded efforts to curtail or end it. Selected as a 1998 Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review Selected as one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 1998 by the Los Angeles Times Book Review "A withering account of the Government's bottomless appetite for 'intelligence'-that is, for collecting, concealing, suppressing, and manipulating it. It is a dismaying tale, though Moynihan has told it with uncommon liveliness and a mordant wit."-Sam Tanenhaus, New York Times Book Review "Moynihan has provided us with an interesting history of secrecy in the United States, and a provocative meditation on the patterns and implications of secrecy in the government."-Claire Berlinski, National Review "Moynihan astutely describes how our bureaucracies quickly learned that having information that others want is a source of power. The senator enlivens his book with fascinating historical examples of how the thirst for secrecy is seemingly insatiable."-Stansfield Turner, Christian Science Monitor