Peter Grabosky - the vengeful state - responses by democratic governments to unauthorised public disclosure of national security information


Democracies are confronted by a troublesome paradox. Their proper functioning depends on an informed citizenry. Yet their security depends on a degree of secrecy. Such contradictions have proven difficult to resolve.

This Big Ideas seminar compares responses of democratic states to the unauthorised public disclosure of national security information. It is based on prominent cases occurring under five different liberal democratic regimes: France, Britain, Switzerland, Israel and the United States.

Each case considers the disclosure in question, and whether the information revealed was indicative of illegality on the part of the state. It then analyses the mobilization of law by the aggrieved government, including whether the state itself violated the law in the course of its response.

Next, it looks at longer term legal and policy consequences of the matter in question. The concluding section addresses two fundamental questions: Was the information appropriately withheld from the citizenry in the first place? What harm to national security resulted from the disclosures?

About the Speaker

Peter Grabosky holds a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, and has written extensively on criminal justice and public policy. His general interests are in computer crime, policing, and regulatory failure.

Peter is interested specifically in how non-governmental institutions may be harnessed in furtherance of public policy. Peter is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Experimental Criminology. For more details visit his RegNet profile.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet