“Delayed Disclosure”: National Security, Whistle-blowers and the Crisis of Secrecy

The significance of Edward Snowden’s revelations has been viewed primarily through the prism of threats to citizen privacy. Richard Aldrich and Christopher Moran argue instead that the most dramatic change has been a decline of government secrecy, especially around national security. While the ethical aspects of state secrets and “whistle-blowing” have received recent attention, few have attempted to explain the dynamics of this growing climate of exposure. Aldrich and Moran's argument is largely technological and they ground their analysis in the changing nature of intelligence work, which is increasingly merging with big data. But they also identify a related cultural change: many intelligence contractors are at best agnostic about the national security state. Meanwhile, the Internet itself provides the perfect medium for the anonymous degradation of secrets. Because the main driver is technology, they suggest this trend is likely to accelerate, presenting national security chiefs with one of their biggest future challenges.

Richard J. Aldrich is Professor of International Security and a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. His most recent book is "The Black Door: Spies, Secrets and British Prime Ministers," co-authored with Rory Cormac.

Christopher R. Moran is Associate Professor of U.S. National Security at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. His latest book is "Company Confessions: Secrets, Memoirs and the CIA".  He has recently held fellowships at the Kluge Center, Library of Congress in Washington D.C., and the Rothermere American Studies Institute at the University of Oxford.


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