Thursday, January 15, UCSB Arts & Lectures presents a 7:30 p.m. screening of Secrecy at Campbell Hall. With insight from intelligence analysts, former spies, attorneys for secretly held “terrorists,” journalists, and others interspersed with archival footage, satellite imagery, multimedia art installations, whimsical sketches, and a moving soundtrack, the documentary pulls back the sheet over the clandestine ways of the United States government. It asks whether government secrecy makes Americans safer in the 21st century, and the answers will certainly surprise you. Here are three startling bits of insight:
1] “The state secrets privilege was established with a lie.” At least that’s the claim of Ben Wizner, the attorney for innocent CIA torture victim Khalid El-Masri. He’s referring to United States v. Reynolds, the landmark case in which the government was able to stop an inquiry into the details of a military plane crash that killed nine people (including three civilians) because of allegedly sensitive and classified information. There was no such information on the crash reports.
2. “This is the kind of damage that can come from a leak of sensitive information.” So explains the National Security Agency’s Mike Lewis of the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine Base in Lebanon, referring to newspaper articles that revealed how the CIA spied on the terrorists. Journalism gets hit hard by intelligence veterans, who say that even 9/11 could have been prevented, had it not been for some press reports.
3. “The gloves really do come off-and the hoods go on, and the electrodes go on, and the leashes go on.” Thomas Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, explains of the cycles of secrecy and violence in American history, pointing to the War on Terror as the latest dip back into ultra-secret and frighteningly unrestrained techniques.