Written by an author who has spent her career thinking and writing about the politics of public information, this important new book examines how presidents use secrecy to protect the nation, foster diplomacy, and gain power. 

Presidents have used secrecy to protect the nation but also to hide their blunders, illnesses, controversial plans, and unethical behavior. As new threats and advancing technology upend old ways and a new president takes office, Americans are struggling with the dual challenge of protecting secrets that are essential to democracy and preventing illicit actions behind closed doors that represent its greatest danger.

In Presidents’ Secrets, government transparency expert Mary Graham explains what leaders and the American people can learn from the courage and mistakes of presidents during three earlier crises that altered the role of secrecy in American democracy. She explains how secrecy can grow from abuse or neglect but also why presidents may no longer be able to rely on secrecy to decree policies that affect citizens’ rights and values in the digital age.