In his 1998 book "Secrecy: The American Experience," Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that secrecy makes government stupid by keeping secrets from itself. Information is property and government agencies hoard it. For example, in the 1940s, U.S. military code breakers read 2,900 communications between Moscow and its agents in America. So, while the nation was torn by bitter disagreements about whether Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs committed espionage, the military knew they had. But it kept the proof from other parts of the government, including President Harry Truman.
America needs all the caution its history of misadventures — a record recently enriched by Syria — should encourage. Since the Bay of Pigs, caution has been scarcer than information justifying it.
George Will's email address is email@example.com.
- Which states are best for tax payers?
- In our opinion: Utah is not a swing state and...
- In our opinion: Western land standoff aside,...
- Letter: Right and wrong
- Doug Robinson: Horrific crimes show the thin...
- Letter: Plenty of danger in e-cigarettes
- Michael Gerson: Why the theological...
- M. Zuhdi Jasser: The fifth commandment is...
- Letter: Right and wrong 96
- My view: Anti-science ruins the climate... 68
- Robert Bennett: Immigration reform... 64
- Letter: Science consensus is slow,... 52
- In our opinion: Confronted by power,... 40
- In our opinion: Western land standoff... 36
- John Hoffmire: Why shouldn’t... 29
- Letter: Republican empathy too rare 28