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Definition[]

Secrecy is the "denial of access to information by unauthorized individuals."[1]

Overview[]

Secrecy is a two-edged sword for a democratic nation. On the one hand, secrecy has a legitimate basis in those situations in which fundamental national interests are at stake (e.g., the preservation of American lives during wartime). Moreover, the history of intelligence reveals many instances in which the revelation of a secret, whether intentional or inadvertent, has led to the compromise of an information source or the loss of a key battle.

On the other hand, secrecy has sometimes been used to stifle public debate and conceal poorly conceived and ill-informed national policies, and mistrust is therefore quite common among many responsible critics of government policy.[2]

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