THE MYTHS OF NATIONAL SECURITY: The Peril of Secret Government by Arthur Macy Cox

THE MYTHS OF NATIONAL SECURITY: The Peril of Secret Government

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Cox deals not so much with ""national security"" as with the currently hot question of government secrecy. A veteran of the State Department and CIA, Cox has assembled a useful handbook on this issue including histories of the Pentagon Papers, CIA operations, and congressional and media policies on ""hush-hush"" matters. The secrecy mania began with the Cold War. He claims that during the Vietnam War and Watergate, ""national security"" became a cover for keeping information from the American people rather than from foreign enemies. Classified material in diplomacy, intelligence and weaponry should be cut down, Cox argues, but often his advocacy seems to outrun facts. He says US--USSR negotiations should be made public, for example, but earlier asserted that deals with the USSR and China were major factors in working out our troop pull-out from Vietnam. Would this have happened if these deals were public? Cox does offer evidence that spying is in any case being outmoded by technology--computers and satellites--and that excessive secrecy can inhibit scientific research. Security bureaucracy has skyrocketed: the Defense Department's Industrial Security Manual, mandatory for contractors, grew from 16(apple) pages in 1951 to 272 pages today. On the other hand he presents little proof for the by now standard charge that ""the implications of all this are dangerous and destructive for our democracy. . . under the cloak of secrecy we run the risk of a growing totalitarianism."" Cox concludes by evaluating reform measures now before Congress. No surprises but a competent survey.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1975
Publisher: Beacon