Why Government Wants to Keep Secret Things Secret
we told you the story of how Wired’s Spencer Ackerman got
the story about how the NSA thinks that telling
you it’s violating your privacy is a violation of your privacy.
Sadly, keeping secret and devising reasons why those secrets have to
be secrets aren’t exactly new to the government. Today, Spencer followed
up with Washington’s
5 Worst Arguments for Keeping Secrets From You.
Nuclear Experiments on People Would Have ‘Adverse Effects
on Public Opinion’
Government secrecy is perhaps at its most pronounced with nuclear
weapons. And most people would probably agree that discretion is the
better part of valor when it comes to the US’s most dangerous
arsenal. But that leeway probably doesn’t extend to atomic experiments
on human beings. Still, back in the 1940s, the Atomic Energy Commission
decided you couldn’t know about anything of the sort.
We now know that at the dawn of the nuclear age, the commission
indeed used human guinea pigs to learn what the effects
of atomic blasts and lingering radiation would be on the human physiology.
In 1947, the commission wanted word that it was, among other things,
feeding irradiated food to handicapped children kept very quiet. Its
rationale was straightforward in its brazenness: We don’t want
to be sued by an outraged public.