This essay tracks the conversion of the United States from a countercommunist to a counterterrorist state formation via an examination of the expanding logics of state secrecy. Starting with analysis of a new category of state information known as “sensitive but unclassified,” the essay theorizes a secrecy/threat matrix as a core project of the national security state. In doing so, it assesses the ideological linkages between “weapons of mass destruction” and the “secret” from the Cold War through the “war on terror.” The essay argues that the long-term effect of state secrecy is to fundamentally devalue knowledge and expertise and assesses the impact of such devaluation on the democratic state form.

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