Open Secrets and Dirty Hands

THE SECRETS OF LAW, Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, Martha Merrill Umphrey, eds., Stanford Univ. Press, 2012

Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 11-24

31 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2011 Last revised: 4 Mar 2013

Alasdair S. Roberts

University of Missouri at Columbia - Truman School of Public Affairs

Date Written: June 1, 2011

Abstract

Complaints about secretiveness were commonplace throughout the presidency of George W. Bush. Such complaints overestimated the capacity of a contemporary President to maintain secrecy. Moreover, they overlooked the reality that information about the worst abuses of the Bush administration was generally accessible to the public. We professed ignorance about governmental kidnapping, indefinite detention, and prisoner abuse, even though details about such practices were readily available. These facts constituted an category of, "open secrets." Why do open secrets persist? Perhaps because many constituencies have incentives to deny the reality of what we already know. And perhaps because the frank acknowledgment of what we know raises awkward questions about our complicity in governmental wrongdoing. Initially prepared for the Amherst College Seminar on Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought.

Keywords: transparency, secrecy, terrorism, dirty hands

Suggested Citation

Roberts, Alasdair S., Open Secrets and Dirty Hands (June 1, 2011). THE SECRETS OF LAW, Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, Martha Merrill Umphrey, eds., Stanford Univ. Press, 2012; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 11-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1857471

Alasdair S. Roberts (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Columbia - Truman School of Public Affairs ( email )

101 Middlebush Hall
Columbia, MO 65201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.aroberts.us

Paper statistics

Downloads
157
Rank
154,168
Abstract Views
925