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Freeing SpeechThe Constitutional War over National Security$
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John Denvir

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814720141

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814720141.001.0001

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(p.81) 4 Democracy in the Dark

(p.81) 4 Democracy in the Dark

(p.81) 4 Democracy in the Dark
Freeing Speech

John Denvir

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on government secrecy and its implications for the First Amendment. It argues that too much information is kept secret under the present constitutional regime and calls for a First Amendment that guarantees press access to government information that voters need in order to evaluate the government's performance. It also contends that keeping some military and diplomatic secrets confidential should be the exception rather than the rule. Furthermore, the final decision on whether secrecy is warranted should be made by independent judges, not self-interested government officials. The rest of the chapter considers how information that is relevant to an informed national security debate and that government would prefer to keep secret can come to public view, such as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests; the impact of the Internet on the American press; and parameters for a national security information system that will allow citizens to access information they need to perform their duties as governors in a democracy, consistent with the American free speech tradition but without undermining national security.

Keywords:   government secrecy, First Amendment, government information, national security, democracy, press, free speech, Freedom of Information Act, Internet

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