SECRECY AND FOREIGN POLICY by Thomas M. & Edward Weisband -- Eds. Franck

SECRECY AND FOREIGN POLICY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The question of government secrecy -- especially executive-branch secrecy over foreign relations -- is broadly explored in essays by prominent movers in diplomacy, journalism, the intelligence community, etc. Case studies are drawn from the U.S., Canada and Britain. The question of ""the right to know"" -- an unfamiliar concept in English constitutional tradition -- is discussed partly in the abstract, and most valuably with insight into the state machinery itself. Bureaucratic rivalries, parliamentary abstention from policy making and opinion management are probed with informal wit and un-academic savvy. William Clark, now of the World Bank, recalls the secret intrigues around the Suez crisis of 1956 when public opinion was dramatically bypassed with a fait accompli; Kenneth Lamb describes the BBC's problems with Northern Irish coverage; a Toronto Star correspondent observes that there seem to be few important secrets in Ottawa. Public affairs lawyer Richard Frank gives an extensive rundown on improper executive-branch setting of steel and oil import quotas in the U.S., and Leonard Boudin, Daniel Ellsberg's lawyer, stresses that the acquittal did not resolve the questions of principle involved. Various remedies for excessive secrecy are proposed; some writers think no formal rules will work, most hope for greater democratic ""balance"" -- but, to the extent that the executive keeps striving for utter discretion over secrecy -- the balancers resemble the meek little child on the other end of the teeter-totter from the fat monster. What remains most rewarding about the book is not its solutions but its access to general governmental processes and specific kinds of dirty tricks.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1974
Publisher: Oxford