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Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law Paperback – May 23, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
The author surveys American history -- from the beginnings of the United States to the present -- in an effort to identify the key issues raised by unauthorized disclosures of diplomatic, military, and intelligence secrets and their publication. The author's survey of American history is interesting, and it provides useful context and background information for his discussion of unauthorized disclosures. The author discusses arguments made in favor of publishing leaked secrets, arguments made against the publication of leaked secrets, and the strengths and weakness of the arguments on both sides.
For the most part, the author is critical of media publication of unauthorized disclosures of secret diplomatic, military, and intelligence information, and he challenges many of the arguments that have been made in favor of such publication. But, the author also notes the problem of over-classification of some government information, the value of a free press to an informed citizenry, and the practical and political difficulties of criminal prosecutions of leakers and the recipients of leaks. The author's effort at presenting the pros and cons of unauthorized disclosures and the government's response to unauthorized disclosures is an admirable effort at being fair, but it occasionally may leave the reader with the feeling that the author is ambivalent and perhaps hesitant about some of the positions he takes in the book.
Anyone interested in the subject of national security leaks should read this book.
"The New York Times reported in 2009 that President George W. Bush had authorized new efforts, including some that were experimental, to undermine electrical systems, computer systems and other networks that serve Iran's nuclear program, according to current and former American officials. ...The program is among the most secret in the United States government, and it has been accelerated since President Obama took office, according to some American officials. "
If it's "the most secret" program, why is the New York Times reporting it? Schoenfeld doesn't discuss this particular case in his book but he looks carefully at the arguments made for and against such revelations.
Frankly I'm surprised by the lack of other five star ratings. His book is well researched, well written and his arguments are balanced, thorough and clearly presented.
He follows the subject from the historical period through to the present. I preferred reading his twentieth century examples over those from earlier periods, but I understand his reasons for reaching back.
I wouldn't say it's a gripping read, but it's clear, fluid writing allows the reader to move quickly through parts of less interest. I also give it credit for succeeding in a somewhat more difficult literary category, which blends history, law and political philosophy.
He covers the Pentagon Papers release by Daniel Ellsberg. Having read Ellsberg's "Secrets" years ago, Schoenfeld's alternate perspective was enlightening.Read more ›
Great book if you've ever pondered the intersection between freedom of the press, legitimate government whistle blowing, and actual issues of national security. The book is pretty well balanced and makes a strong case for why we must critically examine the responsibilities of both our elected representative government and the faux-representative press.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A splendid book that will not be read by those who should read it.
Sad, but undeniable. Thanks to Schoenfeld for a clear, unflinching expose!
I read NECESSARY SECRETS as a fluke. It isn't my normal fare.
At the height of the WikiLeaks and Julian Assange news blitz, I had a conversation with my brother-in-law. Read more