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Should we have access to everything about the government, or should the government be...

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activeg | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted February 2, 2011 at 4:06 PM via web

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Should we have access to everything about the government, or should the government be allowed to hide certain facts to protect Americans' safety?

State your opinion in a complete sentence.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 2, 2011 at 4:23 PM (Answer #2)

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This is a matter of opinion.  My opinion is that the government has to have secrets.  However, I believe that the government often gets to be too interested in keeping things secret when they do not need to be kept from the people.

I do not think that the people should have all the information that the government has.  For example, the people should surely not know the names of spies that our country has who are working in other countries.  Disclosure of this information would lead to these spies becoming worthless (or getting killed).  The people should also not know the specifics of our military plans or the exact capabilities of our weapons.  This would allow our enemies to have more of a chance to defeat us.

There are other examples, but these are a couple of obvious instances in which it would be bad for the people to have all the information available to the government.

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 2, 2011 at 5:47 PM (Answer #3)

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I tend to agree with the previous poster, the government should be able to have certain things stay secret, but I think limitations have to be maintained as it is far too easy to carry things too far.  Especially when things that are supposedly "secret" are used to drive policy, used to override certain civil liberties, etc., one can see how quickly the idea of secrets can be taken too far.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 3, 2011 at 8:24 AM (Answer #4)

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The wikileaks controversy lends a great deal of light to this issue. it is only natural to be suspicious of a government which seems to hide information from its citizenry. It conjures up images of Star Chamber and the Stalin purges. At the same time, no government can operate efficiently without maintaining some degree of security. There is no safe method by which it can disperse information to its citizens and at the same time protect that information from its enemies. Such being the case, the lesser of the two evils seems to be to err on the side of caution, and not release that information which might be detrimental to a nation's security and national interests.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 3, 2011 at 11:54 AM (Answer #5)

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Governments are always going to have secrets.  My biggest problem with wikileaks is that while it increases transparency, it also threatens the lives of operatives overseas.  It is morally repugnant to out a spy if you are risking that person’s life.  Whatever you think of the government, these are real people doing their jobs.  Outing a spy is the same thing as outing an undercover cop.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted February 8, 2011 at 10:13 AM (Answer #6)

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We all seem to be in agreement. the government must be allowed to keep secrets. That is a matter of national security. This discussion reminds me of the quote from A Few Good Men, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth." Much of the information the government keeps secret is no doubt information the American public couldn't handle. However, who keeps the government in check?Hmm.....

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