Advancing a Free Society

Our nation’s secrets, stuck in a broken system

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars" contains remarkable revelations about the inner workings of the administration's national security team and the development of its policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Equally remarkable is how much classified information is in these revelations -- so much classified information, in fact, that it calls into question the legitimacy of the presidential secrecy system.

The fireworks begin in Chapter 1, which recounts President Obama's post-election intelligence briefing from Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence in the Bush administration. Several highly classified programs and their code names are described. Subsequent chapters reveal classified reports, memorandums, conversations, programs, meetings and the like.

Woodward unquestionably received much of this information from senior government officials (just as he seemed to receive classified information from officials for his books about the Bush era). One cannot assume that the information came from the people being quoted or from the authors or recipients of documents; much of it could have come from second- and third-hand sources.

Continue reading Jack Goldsmith in The Washington Post…