B. R. Cohen (BC): Because your scholarship in the history of science and technology is now paired with a blossoming career in documentary filmmaking, and because there are any number of ways we could get started in our discussion, let me begin with the film work. Your documentary from 2008, Secrecy, examines the security-versus-freedom axis. How much should a democratic public know? How much of our security is compromised if we reveal what the analysts know, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)? This is about the contested value of transparency, that’s the starting point?

Peter Galison (PG):Secrecy began when my coproducer, Robb Moss, and I asked, To what extent is national security secrecy a balancing act between safety, on the one hand, and democratic deliberation, on the other? That was the starting question, though it wasn’t the...

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