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Review Essay

Live and Let Leak

State Secrets in the Snowden Era

In This Review

Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy
Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy
By Rahul Sagar
Princeton University Press, 2013, 304 pp. $35.00 Purchase

Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy. By Rahul Sagar. Princeton University Press, 2013, 304 pp. $35.00.

The U.S. government commands few capabilities more potent than its power to declare information secret. Even when the judiciary and Congress exercise their checks-and-balances powers over the executive branch, the American secrecy machine still finds a way to shunt aside substantive discussions about a host of programs and policies.

With little or no public input, the U.S. government has kidnapped suspected terrorists, established secret prisons, performed “enhanced” interrogations, tortured prisoners, and carried out targeted killings. After the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden pilfered hundreds of thousands of documents from the NSA’s computers and released them to journalists last summer, the public learned of additional and potentially dodgy secret government programs: warrantless wiretaps, the weakening of public encryption software, the collection and warehousing of metadata from phones and e-mail accounts, and

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