Mary Graham

Mary Graham is co-director, Transparency Policy Project, Harvard University (



Recent Articles

How the U.S. Government Became Both More Secretive and More Open

The same decades that saw the growth of national-security secrecy saw the rise of the public’s “right to know.”  

Ole Spata/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Ole Spata/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images The government's collection of phone records remained secret for 12 years before the leaking of NSA documents by Edward Snowden, shown here during a video interview in March. This book review appears in the Fall 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Democracy in the Dark: The Seduction of Government Secrecy By Fredrick A.O. Schwartz Jr. 368 pp. The New Press $27.95 The Rise of the Right to Know: Politics and the Culture of Transparency, 1945-1975 By Michael Schudson 368 pp. Harvard University Press $29.95 The next president, whether Republican or Democrat, will inherit an unsettled and acrimonious debate about government secrecy. The debate was inflamed by President George W. Bush’s secret detention of terrorist suspects and warrantless surveillance of Americans and citizens of other countries. Far from putting the controversy to rest, President Barack Obama has only deepened it as he has expanded the use of armed...

Why States Can Do More

It used to be that leaving states to their own devices meant rampant pollution, as each state relaxed regulation standards to attract business. No longer.

W hen Congress laid the foundation for today's environmental regulation in the 1970s, it was an article of faith that states inevitably cut corners in conservation and pollution control in order to attract business. Only the federal government, the argument went, had the political clout and national reach to prevent a state "race to the bottom." Seemingly, there is new support for this view. Not long ago, the press carried lurid reports of hog wastes washing down Virginia's Pagan River toward the Chesapeake Bay. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sued Smithfield Foods, Inc., the East Coast's largest producer of pork products, accusing Virginia Governor George Allen of lax enforcement of national water pollution laws. The state's failure "could create 'pollution havens' " and "lead to a shift of manufacturing and jobs that would penalize the conscientious states," the New York Times editorialized. But "race to the bottom" is far too simplistic a notion to describe state...