Titel: Secrecy : the American experience.
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included
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Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan , chairman of the bipartisan Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, here presents an 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 was adversely affected political decisions and events, and how it has eluded efforts to curtail or end it. Senator Moyhihan begins by revealing the story of the Venona project project, in which Soviet cables sent to spies in the United States during World War II were decrypted by the US Army - but were never passed in 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 Moyynihan, 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 if ideas.Review:
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) was one of the first members of the United States government openly to predict the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union--and, by extension, statist communism--as far back as the late '70s, as political historian Richard Gid Powers reminds readers in a lengthy introduction (comprising approximately one-fifth of Secrecy's total length). Had we spent less time trying to gather secret information about the Soviets and more time openly discussing rather easily interpretable data, Sen. Moynihan argues, we might have been far less paranoid about the supposed Red menace. The problem, he writes, lies in the essential nature of government secrecy: "Departments and agencies hoard information, and the government becomes a kind of market. Secrets become organizational assets, never to be shared save in exchange for another organization's assets.... The system costs can be enormous. In the void created by absent or withheld information, decisions are either made poorly or not at all."
Sen. Moynihan draws upon several incidents to make his point, from the Army's deliberate withholding from President Harry Truman of information about Soviet spy rings to the disastrous 1961 invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs to the Iran-Contra affair. The senator knows whereof he speaks; he was for eight years a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Secrecy ably combines hands-on experience and historical perspective, calling for the United States to take advantage of the new era in international relations to implement policies that once again encourage the open, uninhibited flow of information among government agencies and, whenever possible, the public. --Ron Hogan
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