Unchecked secret power

December 31, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

The December 27, 2010 issue of The Nation comments on a noteworthy piece of reporting by The Washington Post:

In July the Washington Post published ‘Top-Secret America,’ a series of articles based on a two-year investigation by Dana Priest and William Arkin. The report meticulously documented the growth of a vast secret government in the wake of September 11, encompassing at least 1,271 government organizations, 1,931 private companies and an estimated 854,000 individuals with top-secret security clearance. Secret America, Priest and Arkin wrote, has become ‘so large, so unwieldy and so secretive’ that it is not only unaccountable, it is practically unknowable–even to the officials charged with administering it. The series elicited much praise from fellow journalists, but from the government there was– nothing. The Posts report generated not one congressional hearing, subpoena or reform. As far as we know, Secret America continues its work unchecked and unchastised. . . The Post didn’t tell secrets so much as outline the contours of the shadow world from which they originate; WikiLeaks rips off the veil.  It’s the exposure of the secrets that has the world’s power elite so rattled.

Here’s a link to the Washington Post’s articles and introductory video–the secret network of government agencies is so extensive that the authors of Secret American describe it as America’s “fourth branch of government, which emerged subsequent to 9/11.”  Amy Goodman of Democracy Now recently discussed Secret America with Julian Assange.  Here’s what Assange had to say:

Dana Priest’s article on the CIA black sites had all the names of the countries removed from it after a request by the White House to the editors of the Post. Similarly, it is standard Washington Post practice, whenever Dana Priest is to reveal a new story showing significant allegations of abuse, say, by the CIA, to call up the press office the night before to give them the heads-up, as a courtesy move. That doesn’t seem like independent journalism to us. It seems to us that a journalist’s relationship should be with the public, on the one hand, and with their sources, on the other hand, who are providing them with information to give to the public. It seems that the Post is engaging in a sort of an unclear cooperation with the very organizations that it’s meant to be policing. So we’re a little bit hesitant about dealing with them.

But the recent Dana Priest article covering the extensive expanse of money going into the top-secret industry in the United States is encouraging. So perhaps, if that’s a sign of the movement by the Washington Post to a more combative form of journalism, then we would be happy to work with them.


Category: Censorship, Corruption, ignorance, Orwellian, Politics, Secrecy

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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