Al Jazeera: Empire of Secrets

The technology and information revolution allows the government to cast its net wider than ever before; collecting data, watching, spying and analysing. As revelations of systemic snooping continue to hit the headlines, Empire asks: who is watching the watchers?

With more than 1,300 government surveillance and monitoring facilities in the United States, Empire looks to understand why so many government programmes are top secret. Why is secrecy and surveillance becoming such big business? And, is a national security state anything new?

We discuss whether state secrets really work, the rationale behind them, and examine what the world might be like without secrets.

As Empire explores the ultimate secret of secrets, the implicit conclusion that emerges is that secrecy in government is counterproductive. It is not only terribly damaging to the democratic process, but also, in the long-run, to the very objective of national security.

Who is watching the watchers is not simply questioning whether governments should surveil citizens, but also wonders when government secret-keeping crosses the line from democracy to dictatorship.


  1. ek hornbeck
  2. terryhallinan

    beyond moving cursors on a CRT or mechanical arms?


    Isaac Asimov, a brilliant but horribly pedantic science fiction writer, somehow managed to author a wonderfully whimsical tale of a mind-reading robot that went insane over the old maid psychiatrist the robot was feeding romantic lies to regarding a colleague.  The woman psychiatrist committed suicide when the colleague announced marriage to another woman.  The robot attempting to help a lovelorn woman had done enormous harm to a human, thus disobeying Asimov’s First Law of Robots.

    Most of us snoops don’t have the conscience of an Asimov robot.  I know.  I was one.

    Best,  Terry

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