From Publishers Weekly
In this probing exposé, former Washington Post and Time magazine investigative reporter Gup (The Book of Honor) surveys the post-9/11 mania for secrecy, focusing on the ubiquitous classification of routine information, the gutting of the Freedom of Information Act and the persecution of whistle-blowers. The government, he notes, is busy reclassifying information that has been in the public domain for decades, and a Pentagon report criticizing excessive secrecy was stamped Top Secret. It's all part of a national obsession with confidentiality, Gup argues, that afflicts corporations, universities and the press itself, whose reliance on unnamed sources corrupts and misleads its reporting. Gup's muckraking sometimes misfires (he reports on an intelligence operative who either murdered two other agents or was pulling his leg), and he ups the anxiety by conflating government secrecy with surveillance and wire-tapping programs. Democracy seems more gummed up than actually threatened by the problems he spotlights, such as the concealment of crimes, defective products and corporate chicanery, gossip replacing verifiable news, government pursuit of misguided policies based on secret information rather than public information that can be checked and debated. Still, this is a cogent critique of a tight-lipped America that is increasingly paranoid, dysfunctional and absurd.
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Investigative reporter Gup examines the increasing obsession with secrecy in the U.S., its causes, and risks associated with this trend. Gup notes an increasing secrecy in laws and practices within the various branches of government. The response has been fits and starts of efforts to ensure a more open government. Yet readers would be wrong to assume that the dangers perceived after 9/11 would be the primary impetus for this new wave of secrecy. Gup argues that technological advances just prior to 9/11 increased classified material fourfold. He focuses primarily on the Bush administration's "war on terror" but also scrutinizes corporate America and universities, offering examples of subverted laws initially designed to protect the privacy interests of students. Gup also explores the dysfunctionality of overclassification of secrets and the debilitating impact it has had on both government agencies and the public. A most timely critique in this age of an endless and amorphous war on terror. Ford, Vernon