Official Secrets: an excerpt from Greg Guma's Liar's Guns, and Money.
The trouble is that systems of authority are widely known to abuse their powers. As long ago as 1690 John Locke took note of the danger, as did Alexander Hamilton in his defense of John Peter Zenger. Abuse of official power has traditionally been viewed as an especially serious evil indeed. As a result, the US social system generally embraces the presumption of transparency, that in general the people have a "right to know," and that a basic function of the press is to check abuses of power. In fact, this "checking function" is built into the First Amendment; and, except in times of war, it has held sway for over a century. Nevertheless, much important information never reaches the general public. Compounding the problem, US leaders frequently work with a compliant legislative branch to tighten access and negate the appropriate role of journalists.
[via abuddhas memes, in a roundabout way]