American Democracy in Peril: Eight Challenges to America's Future

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Ch. 8- The Eighth Challenge: The National Security State Secrecy A key value of democracy is openness Citizens must have open and free access to information about public policies and the performance of government officials o For example, scientific studies about the probability of contamination from nuclear power plants are likely to affect the degree of support for such plants o Citizens also need information about the activities of public officials so that they can evaluate official behavior Openness and citizen access to information are in direct conflict with one of the key practices of the national security state: information classification o President Truman’s wartime information classification has remained permanent in American Government Over the past fifty years, many major foreign initiatives of American governments have involved “covert operations” that are kept secret from the public o The budgetary allocations to support these activities were kept well hidden as well, despite an explicit constitutional prohibition against such secret accounting The Patriot Act passed with little debate after 9/11 o It gave the Justice Department new powers to obtain patron’s library records and other private information secretly Some national security measures must be kept from public view o Such as the time and place of a military attack o Secrecy provides a means for government officials to carry out acts without congressional approval Government officials have used the instrumentalities of secrecy to deceive the American
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This note was uploaded on 05/20/2008 for the course POLS 001 taught by Professor Morgon during the Fall '07 term at Lehigh University .

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Ch. 8 Notes - Ch. 8- The Eighth Challenge: The National...

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