(Film Screening with Discussion)
In a single recent year the U.S. classied about ve times the number of pages added to the Library of Congress. We live in a world where the production of secret knowledge dwarfs the production of open knowledge. Depending on whom you ask, government secrecy is either the key to victory in our struggle against terrorism, or our Achilles heel. But is so much secrecy a bad thing? Secrecy saves: counter-terrorist intelligence ocers recall with fury how a newspaper article describing National Security Agency abilities directly led to the loss of information that could have avoided the terrorist killing of 241 soldiers in Beirut late in October 1983. Secrecy guards against wanton nuclear proliferation, against the spread of biological and chemical weapons. Secrecy is central to our ability to wage an effective war against terrorism. Secrecy corrupts: From extraordinary rendition to warrant-less wiretaps and Abu Ghraib, we have learned that, under the veil of classication, even our leaders can give in to dangerous impulses. Secrecy increasingly hides national policy, impedes coordination among agencies, bloats budgets and obscures foreign accords; secrecy throws into the dark our system of justice and derails the balance of power between the executive branch and the rest of government.
This lm is about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. By focusing on classied secrets, the government’s ability to put Information out of sight if it would harm national security, Secrecy explores the tensions between our safety as a nation, and our ability to function as a democracy.
Peter Galison is Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. In 1997 Galison was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship; won a 1998 Pfizer Award (for Image and Logic) as the best book that year in the History of Science; and in 1999 received the Max Planck and Humboldt Stiftung Prize. His books include How Experiments End (1987); Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps (2003); and most recently Objectivity (with Lorraine Daston, 2007). His film SECRECY (with Rob Moss) has recently featured at the Sundance Film Festival. His previous film ULTIMATE WEAPON: THE H-BOMB DILEMMA (with Pamela Hogan) has been shown frequently on the History Channel and is widely used in courses and seminars in the United States and abroad. Galison also co-curated the exhibition “Iconoclash” at the German Media Museum (ZKM) in 2002.