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Empire

The Debate: Empire of Secrets

As revelations of systemic snooping continue to hit the headlines, who is watching the watchers?

Last Modified: 20 Aug 2013 13:19
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As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama promised transparency and open government yet his administration is one of the most closed governments in US history, described as being worse than even the Nixon administration.

The technology and information revolution allows the government to cast its net wider than ever before; collecting data, watching, spying and analysing. As revelations of systemic snooping continue to hit the headlines, Empire asks: who is watching the watchers?

Just when more people open up about their private lives through social media, the government becomes ever more intrusive.

It's a global security state, it's not a national security state.

Oliver Stone, director, The Untold History of the United States

With more than 1,300 government surveillance and monitoring facilities in the United States, Empire looks to understand why so many government programmes are top secret. Why is secrecy and surveillance becoming such big business? And, is a national security state anything new?

We discuss whether state secrets really work, the rationale behind them, and examine what the world might be like without secrets.

As Empire explores the ultimate secret of secrets, the implicit conclusion that emerges is that secrecy in government is counterproductive. It is not only terribly damaging to the democratic process, but also, in the long-run, to the very objective of national security.

Joining us as we unpack some of the known unknowns are Oscar-winning film director Oliver Stone, and war reporters Jeremy Scahill and Richard Rowley.

We unravel the psychology of secrets with psychiatrist Justin Frank, the author of Obama on the Couch  and Bush on the Couch . We look at the impact of state secrets brought to light with Dana Priest, a leading Washington Post investigative reporter on national security and author of two books, including her most recent Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State .

We are also joined by Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and an attorney representing Julian Assange and Wikileaks; as well as Evgeny Morozov, an expert on internet and privacy issues, and author of two books: The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom  and his most recent: To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism.

Empire can be seen from the last Sunday of every month at 2000GMT, and is re-aired during the following week at these times GMT: Monday: 1200GMT; Tuesday: 0100GMT; Wednesday: 0600GMT.


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Al Jazeera
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