Image - Sam Lebovic
Image - Sam Lebovic

Sam Lebovic: The Espionage Act and the Rise of America’s Secrecy Regime

Sam Lebovic demonstrates how The Espionage Act, passed in 1917 to punish the critics of American participation in World War I, gave rise over time to a vast American security state designed to keep its citizens in the dark. When Americans began to balk at the act’s restrictions on political dissidents and the press, the government turned its focus toward keeping its own secrets under wraps. The resulting system for classifying information is shrouded in secrecy, absurdly cautious, and staggeringly costly, preventing ordinary Americans from learning what their country is doing in their name, both at home and abroad.  

Shedding new light on the bloated governmental security apparatus that’s weighing our democracy down, Lebovic sets out in detail the history of America’s ever-increasing drift toward secrecy—and the staggering human and political costs that has had on our society. 

Join us online for an in-depth look at this far-reaching law.

MLF ORGANIZER: George Hammond

A Humanities Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

Image - Sam Lebovic

Sam Lebovic

Professor of History and Art History, George Mason University; Author, State of Silence: The Espionage Act and the Rise of America’s Secrecy Regime

Image - George Hammond

In Conversation with George Hammond

Author, Conversations With Socrates