Secrecy and Openness in Counterterrorism

Lecture/presentation.
Jacob Shapiro.

In 1787, Patrick Henry offered a critical admonition to the American people – “A government open to public scrutiny is a key tenet of democracy.” There are three core reasons to favor openness; accountability, transparency, and better-informed voters. However, this module focuses more specifically on how and when greater openness can help defend the country against terrorist threats. In an effort to illuminate the benefits of this policy, we will address why the trade-offs between secrecy and openness are more important now than ever before. We will also discuss problems with the way decisions about secrecy have been traditionally made, examples of when sharing information that might help terrorists can be a net gain to counter-terror efforts, and some principles that can guide decisions about when to share information and when to keep it secret.

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