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Secrecy: Film Screening and Roundtable

Secrecy: Film Screening and Roundtable

Peter Galison, Robb Moss, Jonathan Zittrain, Martha Minow, and Jack Goldsmith

Wednesday, February 18, 5:00-7:00PM ET
Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School
Free and Open to the Public
Popcorn and Soda Provided!
Facebook Event Page

The Berkman Center, Peter Galison, and Robb Moss present a screening of the film "Secrecy," a film about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy, followed by a roundtable discussion with professors Jack Goldsmith, Martha Minow, and Jonathan Zittrain.

About Secrecy

In a single recent year the U.S. classified about five times the number of pages added to the Library of Congress. We live in a world where the production of secret knowledge dwarfs the production of open knowledge. Depending on whom you ask, government secrecy is either the key to victory in our struggle against terrorism, or our Achilles heel. But is so much secrecy a bad thing?

Secrecy saves: counter-terrorist intelligence officers recall with fury how a newspaper article describing National Security Agency abilities directly led to the loss of information that could have avoided the terrorist killing of 241 soldiers in Beirut late in October 1983. Secrecy guards against wanton nuclear proliferation, against the spread of biological and chemical weapons. Secrecy is central to our ability to wage an effective war against terrorism.

Secrecy corrupts. From extraordinary rendition to warrant-less wiretaps and Abu Ghraib, we have learned that, under the veil of classification, even our leaders can give in to dangerous impulses. Secrecy increasingly hides national policy, impedes coordination among agencies, bloats budgets and obscures foreign accords; secrecy throws into the dark our system of justice and derails the balance of power between the executive branch and the rest of government.

This film is about the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. By focusing on classified secrets, the government's ability to put information out of sight if it would harm national security, Secrecy explores the tensions between our safety as a nation, and our ability to function as a democracy.

  • PREMIERE, the 2008 Sundance Film Festival
  • WINNER of the Special Jury Award for Documentary Features, Independent Film Festival Boston
  • WINNER, Best Documentary, Newport International Film Festival

About the Directors and Roundtable Participants

Peter Galison is Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. In 1997 Galison was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship; won a 1998 Pfizer Award (for Image and Logic) as the best book that year in the History of Science; and in 1999 received the Max Planck and Humboldt Stiftung Prize.

Robb Moss is the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard University. His recent film, "The Same River Twice" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003, was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit Award, and screened theatrically in more than eighty cities around the US. He is the past board chair and president of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers and has taught filmmaking at Harvard University for the past twenty years.

Jonathan Zittrain is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, is a co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and served as its first executive director from 1997-2000. Zittrain's research includes digital property, privacy, and speech, and the role played by private "middlepeople" in Internet architecture. He has a strong interest in creative, useful, and unobtrusive ways to deploy technology in the classroom.

Martha Minow, the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor, who has taught at Harvard Law School since 1981, writes about rights for members of racial and religious minorities and for women, children, and persons with disabilities; law, culture, and narrative; and challenges posed by the "war on terror."  An avid fan of films, she has served as an advisor to filmmakers Fred Wiseman and Marlene Booth.

Jack Goldsmith is Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard University. He is the author, most recently, of The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration (W.W. Norton 2007), as well as other books and articles on many topics related to terrorism, national security, and international law.

Download media from this event here.

Past Event
Wednesday, February 18, 2009 - Thursday, February 19, 2009
5:00 PM - 8:00 PM