Park City, Utah, January 24, 2008 – The new documentary “Secrecy,” made by Harvard professors Peter Galison and Robb Moss, premiered this past week at the Sundance Film Festival, featuring National Security Archive director Tom Blanton in a leading role and on the after-show panels answering questions from Sundance audiences.
Blanton participated in the premiere showing on January 18 in Park City, the follow-up showing on January 19 also in Park City, and the noontime showing on Sunday January 20 at the screening room in Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort.
The reviewer for Zoom-In.com remarked that “Mr. Blanton comes off like a philosopher of national security, waxing downright poetic about the myriad issues of information control and even the erotic allure of secrets. He has so much to say that one suspects that Galison and Moss could have just as easily filmed his monologue--a classified information cousin to An Inconvenient Truth’s environmental lecture would have emerged."
Reviewers from Hollywood Reporter and Reuters this week report that “Documentaries stole the show at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend” and that “Peter Galison and Robb Moss’ national security expose ‘Secrecy’” was among the “documentaries creating late acquisitions buzz.”
The Archive director serves as one of twelve on-screen commentators in the documentary, together with noted secrecy watchdog Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, former CIA Jerusalem base chief Melissa Boyle Mahle, retired director of the Information Security Oversight Office Steve Garfinkel, Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, former National Security Agency information security officer Mike Levin, former Los Alamos Laboratory director Sig Hecker, former CIA official James Bruce, Patricia Reynolds Herring and Judith Palya Loether (the widow and the daughter of two engineers who died in the 1948 airplane crash that led to the Supreme Court’s establishment of the “state secrets” privilege in the 1953 Reynolds decision), Wilson Brown from the Philadelphia law firm that represented the Reynolds plaintiffs both in 1953 and 2003, and lawyers Neil Katyal and Lt. Cdr. Charles Swift who represented the plaintiff (incarcerated at Guantanamo) in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld Supreme Court case.
Interestingly, former CIA official James Bruce repeats on-screen the false claim that press leaks led Osama bin Laden to stop using his satellite phone and thus cut off U.S. ability to intercept the calls before 9/11. This contention was demolished under public scrutiny once it emerged from the highly-classified studies of press leaks undertaken by Mr. Bruce in his quest for Congress to pass an “official secrets act” or failing that, to send “SWAT teams into journalists’ homes” if they reported on classified matters. See Glenn Kessler, “On Leaks, Relying on A Faulty Case Study: Untrue Bin Laden Satellite Phone Story Still Has Currency With Media’s Critics,” Washington Post, December 23, 2005, p. A3.