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Secrets and LeaksThe Dilemma of State Secrecy$
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Rahul Sagar

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691168180

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691168180.001.0001

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Should the Law Condone Unauthorized Disclosures?

Should the Law Condone Unauthorized Disclosures?

Fire Alarms and the Problem of Legitimacy

(p.103) Chapter 4 Should the Law Condone Unauthorized Disclosures?
Secrets and Leaks

Rahul Sagar

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines whether the law ought to condone unauthorized disclosures of classified information. The features that make the unauthorized disclosure of classified information an effective and credible regulatory mechanism are the very same ones that raise concerns about its lawfulness and legitimacy. Because such disclosures override the classification decisions made by officials responsible for national security, our reliance on them seems to conflict with our commitment to the rule of law and the norms of democracy. The chapter explains what the law has to say about unauthorized disclosures of classified information and shows that the law is not favorably disposed toward the official responsible for making the unauthorized disclosure. It also argues against revising the law to take account of the fact that unauthorized disclosures can allow lawmakers and citizens to become aware of misconduct that would otherwise be shielded by state secrecy.

Keywords:   law, unauthorized disclosure, classified information, state secrecy, national security, democracy, legitimacy

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