Secrets and leaks: The dilemma of state secrecy

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

Secrets and Leaks examines the complex relationships among executive power, national security, and secrecy. State secrecy is vital for national security, but it can also be used to conceal wrongdoing. How then can we ensure that this power is used responsibly? Typically, the onus is put on lawmakers and judges, who are expected to oversee the executive. Yet because these actors lack access to the relevant information and the ability to determine the harm likely to be caused by its disclosure, they often defer to the executive's claims about the need for secrecy. As a result, potential abuses are more often exposed by unauthorized disclosures published in the press. But should such disclosures, which violate the law, be condoned? Drawing on several cases, Rahul Sagar argues that though whistleblowing can be morally justified, the fear of retaliation usually prompts officials to act anonymously--that is, to "leak" information. As a result, it becomes difficult for the public to discern when an unauthorized disclosure is intended to further partisan interests. Because such disclosures are the only credible means of checking the executive, Sagar writes, they must be tolerated. However, the public should treat such disclosures skeptically and subject irresponsible journalism to concerted criticism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherPrinceton University Press
Number of pages281
Volume9781400848201
ISBN (Electronic)9781400848201
ISBN (Print)9780691149875
StatePublished - Oct 13 2013

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secrecy
national security
executive power
retaliation
journalism
criticism
abuse
anxiety
Law
lack
ability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

Sagar, R. (2013). Secrets and leaks: The dilemma of state secrecy. Princeton University Press.

Secrets and leaks : The dilemma of state secrecy. / Sagar, Rahul.

Princeton University Press, 2013. 281 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Sagar, R 2013, Secrets and leaks: The dilemma of state secrecy. vol. 9781400848201, Princeton University Press.
Sagar R. Secrets and leaks: The dilemma of state secrecy. Princeton University Press, 2013. 281 p.
Sagar, Rahul. / Secrets and leaks : The dilemma of state secrecy. Princeton University Press, 2013. 281 p.
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