“Delayed Disclosure”: National Security, Whistle-blowers and the Crisis of Secrecy

The significance of Edward Snowden’s revelations has been viewed primarily through the prism of threats to citizen privacy. Richard Aldrich and Christopher Moran argue instead that the most dramatic change has been a decline of government secrecy, especially around national security. While the ethical aspects of state secrets and “whistle-blowing” have received recent attention, few have attempted to explain the dynamics of this growing climate of exposure. Aldrich and Moran’s argument is largely technological and they ground their analysis in the changing nature of intelligence work, which is increasingly merging with big data. But they also identify a related cultural change: many intelligence contractors are at best agnostic about the national security state. Meanwhile, the Internet itself provides the perfect medium for the anonymous degradation of secrets. Because the main driver is technology, they suggest this trend is likely to accelerate, presenting national security chiefs with one of their biggest future challenges.