Secrecy and Good Governance

Global Brief, pp. 54-58, Winter 2011

7 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2011 Last revised: 27 Apr 2011

See all articles by Craig Scott

Craig Scott

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Daniel P. Fata

The Cohen Group

Date Written: February 18, 2011


Co-author Scott debates Daniel Fata (Vice-President of the Cohen Group in Washington, DC; US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO Policy from 2005 to 2008) in the Nez-à-Nez section of the quarterly world affairs magazine, Global Brief. The proposition put to Scott and Fata by Global Brief was: ‘Secrecy is a necessary condition for good governance’. Scott argued against and Fata argued for the proposition. In the result, both conceded aspects of the other’s position, while maintaining distinctly different views about where – and, notably, when – to draw the line between secrecy and transparency. The debate addresses good governance generally but focuses more particularly on governance as it relates to foreign policy decision making and diplomatic statecraft, against the backdrop of the rise of Wikileaks and with special reference to Wikileaks’ release of US Embassy cables. Specific contexts raised as examples include the Iran-Contra affair, the US and UK roles in the Iraq invasion and its aftermath, the coup d’état in Honduras, sanctions against Zimbabwe, war crimes in Sri Lanka, transfer of detainees to torture by Canada, and nuclear weapons in the hands of Israel and Iran. The present SSRN version appears on the Global Brief website, while a substantially identical version appears, differently formatted and with final edits, in the print edition.

Keywords: Secrecy, Transparency, National Security, Foreign Policy, Wikileaks, Good Governance, Diplomacy, Oversight, Democracy, Cabinet Deliberation, Congress, Accountability, Freedom of Information, Leaking, Rule of Law, Public Policy, Counter-Terrorism, Military Defense, United States, United Kingdom

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33, K40

Suggested Citation

Scott, Craig M. and Fata, Daniel P., Secrecy and Good Governance (February 18, 2011). Global Brief, pp. 54-58, Winter 2011. Available at SSRN:

Craig M. Scott (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )



Daniel P. Fata

The Cohen Group ( email )

Washington, DC

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