My goal today is not to tell you precisely where the proper balance is, because that can only be worked out in democratic interplay among the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of our governments. That process is awkward, halting, and sometimes maddening; but I continue to have great faith in the wisdom of our Founders, who perceived that checks and balances would over time prove a guarantor of our liberties. We must always remember that the Founders deliberately structured the Federal government so that it could never be too efficient. Recall that Benito Mussolini made great progress in making the trains run on time in Fascist Italy, but the tradeoff was, well...Fascist Italy.
So what is my goal today? I would like to provide a framework for thinking about the issues surrounding public access to government information in an era of concern over national security. I will review several real life examples drawn from situations that have been reported by the news media and that I know personally from my work as a Government Documents librarian. I certainly bring some bias to my understanding of these situations, arising both from my personal political predilections and my professional obligations, but I will strive to make my editorializing clear as such. I hope that my presentation today will leave you with some ideas to ponder and help you toward your own sense of where the proper balance lies. With this introduction, I'll move onto those real life examples....
Shaw, James T., "Where is the Proper Balance? Public Access to Government Information in an Era of Concern over National Security" (2006). Criss Library Faculty Proceedings & Presentations. 7.