A few items that have crossed my desk today:
- The Canberra Times reports today on the massive increase in the number of Australian bureaucrats with security clearances, including plumbers working for the Industry Department and field workers for the Plague Locust Commission. It's all because so much more of the information these public servants need for their jobs is classified when it probably shouldn't be.
- Spiegel has published in PDF form a new tranche of Snowden documents relating to the NSA's activities in Germany.
- The New York Review of Books has a review of three new books about Snowden and a documentary by the American public broadcaster, PBS. Parts 1 and 2 of the doco embedded below.
- The same review mentions a piece by prominent American political commentator Michael Kinsley, in which he states that 'the private companies that own newspapers, and their employees, should not have the final say over the release of government secrets, and a free pass to make them public with no legal consequences'. For reasons outlined here, I don't think that's a persuasive argument, but I do think governments do themselves no favours by classifying so much material (see point 1). They could help themselves by setting up systems that allow for the controlled release of classified information, as a kind of safety valve against uncontrolled leaks. It's an argument I make at greater length in this WSJ op-ed.