Censoring a Dead Man

AdamReed's picture
Submitted by AdamReed on Tue, 2006-04-18 16:07

The late Jack Anderson "wrote about Watergate, CIA assassination schemes, and countless scandals. ... His archive, some 200 boxes now being held by George Washington University's library, could be a trove of information about state secrets, dirty dealings, political maneuverings, and old-fashioned investigative journalism, open for historians and up-and-coming reporters to see. But the government wants to see the documents before anyone else. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have told university officials and members of the Anderson family that they want to go through the archive, and that agents will remove any item they deem confidential or top secret." Chronicle of Higher Education. Go read.


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Are you saying that only if

Charles Henrikson's picture

Are you saying that only if those state secrets are contained in a classified file (component of reality) that they can be owned? I think one can be reasonably sure that those state secrets are contained in a classified file; otherwise how would one know what one was looking for/checking against in order to decide if it is state property/something to seize. In order for that file to come into existence: someone would have to have discovered the fact about reality, written it down, and filed it as classified. So the government can own the classified information, as it was discovered/created by the government's agents.

"Discoveries, or more generally knowledge of pre-existing facts (which is what secrets are, knowledge of pre-existing facts, including facts discovered by governments) cannot be owned."(Adam Reed, "Knowledge of facts cannot be owned")

True enough, knowledge itself cannot be owned, but the written information can be. It is this written information that the government is seizing, not the knowledge in Jack Anderson's head (his death accomplished this more thoroughly then the government could have).

Knowledge of facts cannot be owned

AdamReed's picture

Charles,

Rand makes clear (on the previous page, page 130) that ideas can be owned only if (and only because) components of reality (technologies, books) embodying those ideas would not have existed except for their invention or creation by an inventor or creator. Discoveries, or more generally knowledge of pre-existing facts (which is what secrets are, knowledge of pre-existing facts, including facts discovered by governments) cannot be owned. Rand's reasoning is given in the paragraph that begins with "It is important to note, however,..." etc. If you disagree please give your reasons.

re:"Not Intelectual Property"

Charles Henrikson's picture

Adam,

I do not see where she says that secrets are not intellectual property. What she does say however that "Intellectual property represents a claim, not on material objects, but on the idea they embody."* I take this to mean that intelectual property is a deed on an idea. If there is classified information (a.k.a state secrets) contained in those boxes, it is owned by the government and they have the right to collect their property.

*(CUI, pg 131)

The Fibbies have be to challenged on this one

Robert Campbell's picture

Adam.

I agree with you that what the Fibbies are up to is outrageous.

What's more, it's not hard to figure out what they're really after.  They want to remove from the archive anything that would embarrass the Federal government.

I hope Anderson's family and GWU give 'em hell.

Robert Campbell

Not "Intellectual Property"

AdamReed's picture

According to Ayn Rand, secrets are not intellectual property. She demonstrates this in the last third of "Patents and Copyrights." Tell me why you disagree, and then maybe we can discuss the point.

I don't see a problem Adam.

Charles Henrikson's picture

I don't see a problem Adam. Had Jack Anderson wanted us to know the secrets, we would know by now. We would all like to know about the dirty little things that might be contained in those 200 boxes, but we do not have that right. France may wish that Microsoft open up its source-code, but they do not have that right. I trust the government about as far as I can throw them, but it is their intellectual property.

I am guessing that you will next ask: Does government have the right to intelectual property? I think that would be a good debate. : )

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