There might not be any way to reverse growing government secrecy, said Rolling Stone contributing editor Michael Hastings, because the forces profiting from it are too powerful. On today's episode of Up w/ Chris Hayes, he argued that the major institutions of American government have a bias towards greater and greater levels of secrecy.
"There's a bipartisan consensus behind this national security state," he said. "The intelligence community is very powerful. The Pentagon, the military community. Any of the communities that are classifying information are very powerful."
"We should say, it's not just the Obama administration, in terms of continuity with Bush," said host Chris Hayes. "I mean, Congress has left the playing field. The courts tend to endorse a lot of this secrecy when national secrecy arguments are made for them. Most times they're deferential to that. The totality of the government has embraced this."
Later in the segment, Hayes wondered aloud why the opposition party in Congress has not done more to oppose greater secrecy. "There does seem like there should be incentive for conservatives, for libertarian-minded conservatives who are fearful of the state ... to be at the forefront of this, particularly when they can take a shot at a Democratic president."
Hastings replied that the Republican Party was too invested in an aggressive approach to foreign policy to provide much of a counterweight. However, he also noted an unusual exception. "When Senator John McCain is the only one in the national debate bringing up Bradley Manning's treatment, we are at this weird, bizarre moment," he said.
The conversation about government secrecy was prompted by this week's news regarding the Obama administration's covert cyber attacks on Iran. Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two prosecutors to investigate the leaks.