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At work, at the doctor’s office, on campus, in your car, your right to know has been replaced by someone else’s right to keep a secret.
U.S. judges allow businesses to make secret settlement agreements that keep products with life-threatening defects on the market. Intelligence agencies use an ever-widening array of classification schemes as weapons in their turf wars with rival bureaucracies. Universities use obscure readings of federal statutes to keep victims of rape and assault from learning how their attackers were punished. The press offers anonymity to its government contacts, freeing them from accountability, robbing readers of transparency, and, sometimes, shattering innocent people’s lives. And whistle-blowers who dare to expose some of the worst excesses that secrecy permits are afforded less and less protection.
In Nation of Secrets, Ted Gup identifies a malignant strain in American culture, exposing how and why our most important institutions increasingly keep secrets from the very people they are supposed to serve. Drawing on his decades as an investigative reporter, Gup argues that a preoccupation with secrets has undermined the very values—security, patriotism, privacy, the national interest—in whose name secrecy is so often invoked.
Gup shows how the expanding thicket of classified information leads to the devaluation of the secrets we most need to keep, and argues that journalists have become pawns in the government’s internal conflicts over access to information. He explores the blatant exploitation of privacy and confidentiality in academia, business, and the courts, and concludes that in case after case, these principles have been twisted to allow the emergence of a shadow system of justice, unaccountable to the public.
Powered by shocking case studies and startling analysis, Nation of Secrets will shake our faith in some our most trusted institutions, piercing the veil of secrecy to reveal an alarming new threat to democracy in America.
“Nation of Secrets is an eye-opening and very important book. Ted Gup provides many new illustrations of the excesses of governmental and corporate secrecy—but he also does something even more significant. He connects hundreds of items from the news of recent years into a pattern that shows how unbalanced America’s approach to secrecy has become. I thought I was familiar with the issues Ted Gup addresses, but I learned something from every chapter of this book.”—James Fallows, correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly
“A generation ago, ‘the public’s right to know’ was a U.S. media cliché, but today’s silence is deafening. Nation of Secrets explains why.”—Kevin Phillips, New York Times bestselling author of American Theocracy
“Nation of Secrets brilliantly illuminates the landscape of secrecy in which we live. In a perceptive account illustrated with vivid case studies, Ted Gup shows how secrecy is corrupting our institutions and squandering our democratic heritage. Before the tide of secrecy overwhelms the tools of self-government, this gripping book may prompt readers to ask: Is a nation of secrets what we really want to become?”—Steven Aftergood, Project on Government Secrecy, Federation of American Scientists
“Nation of Secrets sounds the alarm about America's frightening turn toward excessive secrecy and makes the case with powerful reporting and a diligent, fair-minded toughness. Ted Gup is a national treasure—a shoe-leather reporter with the highest ethical standards and a passion for truth. He has no ax to grind, which makes the book's message all the scarier.”—Alex Jones, Director, Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
“Nation of Secrets is an eye-opening and very important book. Ted Gup provides many new illustrations of the excesses of governmental and corporate secrecy?but he also does something even more significant. He connects hundreds of items from the news of recent years into a pattern that shows how unbalanced America's approach to secrecy has become. I thought I was familiar with the issues Ted Gup addresses, but I learned something from every chapter of this book.” —James Fallows, correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly