At first glance, you couldn't choose a less visual film subject than secrecy. It is by definition the topic you are forbidden to see, with sources who, by profession and inclination, won't tell you anything. And yet secrecy has a grip on us, on our political being, on our imaginary lives, on our sense of privacy. This was where we began our film, convinced that it was a central topic of our time, one that we all related to—and yet utterly baffled about how we were going to bring it to life.

We began filming in a rather traditional way—in fact, the first interview, one we didn't end up using, was outside on a brilliant fall day on the Chesapeake coast, a retired national security official who once bore responsibility for guarding the most dangerous knowledge—of nuclear weapons. But there was something profoundly wrong about trying to enter into this world with birds chirping and the water lapping at the shore. After a lot of thinking and experimenting, we realized that we needed a more hermetic environment, the controlled, highly focused lighting of a sound stage. No books or shelves—or birds or boats—in the background, but instead the most artificial space we could construct. We set up a rear-projection screen, with the background scene alluding sometimes directly, sometimes metaphorically, to the world of the person being interviewed. This sealed-off volume became the reference point of the film, intimate and a little disturbing; disconnected from the outside and yet all the while wandering through questions of agents and betrayals, wars and information, power and the impact of secrecy on those caught up in it.

The intense, intimate setting for the interview did set the tone we were after, and we decided to work with an editor and a composer from the get-go. Instead of collecting all the materials first—and then editing—we decided to make the film grow out as it needed to—rather than push our interviews and materials into a pre-determined mold. So we began editing immediately after our first sound-stage interview—Chyld King, our terrific editor came on board then: our first edited piece was a few minutes long. Alongside our bringing on board an editor, we started working with composer John Kusiak, thinking together about how we wanted to score to interact with the film: where individual instruments needed to stand out, where we wanted more of a progression.

Secrecy resonates with everyone. But we were not at all sure that in interviewing professionals that they would think—or want to discuss—how layered the political, technical, or military secrecy was on personal associations. On this score, we needn't have worried—just about everyone, whatever their position or politics, had rather strong views about the ways that sexuality, secrecy, and power thread inevitably around one another in our imagination. Knowing that our interview footage would be so highly confined, we wanted a way to let this other, more personal dimension of secrecy crack through the more deliberate, intended meanings. It was thinking about this problem that led us to animation—not purely as illustrative of what we were not allowed to see, but as invoking a more associative kind of imagery. Animation—mostly of an almost wood-block expressionist kind led by Ruth Lingford—served as this underground lava stream, bursting out, intermittently, from the first moments of the film all the way through to the end.

But who to interview? From the beginning, we aimed to show a world of secrecy as seen by those in it, not by pundits celebrating or castigating from their perches. Nor did we want famous former heads of agencies or high-ranking politicians who had already spoken so frequently on issues of public policy that they were likely to quote themselves—or return to justify actions they had taken. Instead, we wanted to get a sense of how more usual people moved in the shadow world, agents and analysts, for example. One of the former agents served in many postings across the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, including years as CIA Station Chief in Jerusalem. Our other Agency interlocutor worked both in the Intelligence and Operations Directorates; inter alia, he helped run a group on "Foreign Denial and Deception" (a fabulous title that means denying information to other intelligence services and deceiving them). He also takes very hard-line stance on press leaks. Finally, from the National Security Agency, we found the National Security Agency (NSA)'s long-time head of information security, a guardian of the secrets of the most secretive of government agencies—they make the CIA look open.

On the other side, equally passionate, were soldiers in the secrecy wars who were just as persuaded that the future of democracy depended on arresting the helter-skelter increase in classified information. These include the head of the Government Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a group committed to tracking, analyzing and opposing the steady increase of classified information. Joining him as a secrecy critic is the director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Using the Freedom of Information Act, this NSA (not the infinitely larger government three-letter agency) has published de-classified documentation of a vast range of events—from the Cuban Missile Crisis of the early 1960s through very contemporary events. These documents recast our understanding of turning points in recent history.

People often ask us if we had trouble getting access. There were many very difficult parts of making "Secrecy." As it turned out access was, perhaps surprisingly, not one of them. Our goal was, from the start not to expose this or that technical detail—we were not out to publicize how high, fast, or far a particular fighter jet could fly. Instead, what interested us was the system itself: how did classification function, what effect did it have on those inside and outside of it, what issues did it raise for security, for press freedom, for separation of powers, for deliberative democracy itself?

To make visible this rather abstract set of concerns, we soon realized that we'd need specifics, and we wanted the most forceful case our subjects could mount, not some casual remark or the embarrassed silence and turned faces that accompany ambush questions. So over and again we asked the people with whom we spoke to take their best shot, to choose the instances that best illustrated their most central and compelling arguments. Then we dug in. For the National Security Agency that meant taking us back to Beirut—where a 1983 disclosure about NSA monitoring meant the loss of a crucial electronic source, and the Marine Barrack attack. For a Washington Post special projects reporter who appears in the film, that meant something very different: the absolute impossibility of the public deciding issues central to democratic deliberation if one didn't know. From the reporter's perspective if the press obediently avoided all secret topics, that would have meant the public would not have the very basic elements of the "war on terror": that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction was an absolute bust, that the United States was engaged in "extraordinary rendition," that Bin Laden had escaped from Tora Bora. Yes, he says, these were classified secret; but if the papers reported only what the official line was, the American people would not have understood the basic elements of the "war on terror" as it was actually being conducted.

Bit by bit, we began to find ways to get at this epoch struggle over secrecy—what the stakes were, how to make the secrecy wars visible, how to shuttle between the political and the personal. But we knew that the film couldn't work as we wanted it to, if it did not find a way to get at how the rubber met the road—how these positions, passionately held as they were, played out in the broader world.

So we chose two remarkable and hugely influential Supreme Court cases—and followed what they meant for the structure of secrecy. One case launched secrecy as the in early years of the Cold War, the other is urgently contemporary, still being fought as and it shapes and reshapes boundaries between the President, the law, and secrecy. We ended up wending both of these cases through the film; they take battles over secrecy and give them a human, personal dimension.

Throughout the long process of making this film, we've intentionally not proceeded as if the issue of national security secrecy could be tied "solved" with an easy set of steps. We see the issues of secrecy as tough, among the hardest we face as we, and not just in the United States, struggle to bolster democracy in a time of great fear.

WINNER, Special Jury Award for Documentary Features, Independent Film Festival, Boston

WINNER, Best Documentary, Newport International Film Festival

"Smart and unexpected, Secrecy combines thoughtful interviews with an elegant visual look to produce an incisive examination of some of the key issues of our time..." –Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"The filmmakers have taken an abstract subject that's crucial to understand (U.S. government secrecy), interviewed smart and passionate analysts (including former CIA higher-ups), woven in touching stories of everyday people impacted by Washington's compulsion to hide information, and added compelling animation and music. The result: A documentary that illuminates, entertains and inspires..." –San Francisco Chronicle

"Even more politically trenchant is the articulate policy debate called Secrecy, which tackles what is arguably the key question of the information age—namely how do we reconcile freedom and security? Directors Peter Galison and Robb Moss don't attempt to hide their belief that the U.S. government's increasing obsession with classification does more harm than good and is being used today primarily as a means for the executive branch to avoid accountability. To their credit, however, they also give ample screen time to former CIA and NSA employees who make strong cases for the opposing viewpoint. ...this evenhanded act of advocacy is required viewing for the hundreds of millions of us who have consented to be governed." –Mike D'Angelo, The Screengrab

"This is a strong, probing essay that asks necessary questions." –Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe

"Robb Moss and Peter Galison's Secrecy is quiet and discrete in its examination of how contemporary crimes are being papered over, and devastating in both its analysis and its presentation. (It's one of the few recent documentaries to incorporate animation that doesn't make your eyes cross, then roll.) There's a portrait in there of a career military lawyer who does the right thing against the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, and as his appearances increase, his fury grows: he is right, he knows he is right and history will record he is right." –Ray Pride, Newcity Chicago

"Secrecy, from Harvard film-prof godhead Robb Moss and Harvard science-historian brainiac Peter Galison, attracted a very particular crowd (at Sundance): articulate, knowledgeable and borderline paranoidThe film's a balanced polemic (no, that's not a paradox) about our government's rapidly growing fetish for hiding information from its citizens; you can actually feel the movie focusing your understanding of the issues as you watch." –Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

"No less mind-boggling is Robb Moss and Peter Galison's Secrecy, which traces the history of government confidentiality from its origins in the 1940s to its epidemic incarnation in the present day. Although it's not exactly non-partisan, the movie presents compelling, if frequently unnerving, arguments from both sides. Former CIA Jerusalem bureau chief Melissa Boyle Mahle explains, without blinking an eye, that secrecy has the advantage of allowing the government to take action that would seem inconsistent with our ideals if brought to light. Whatever you think of that reasoning, she's hardly the first to think it, just the first to say it without beating around the bush." –Sam Adams, The Philadelphia City Paper

"Timely and layered." –Nathaniel Rogers,

"Secrecy, a documentary about the benefits and detriments of government secrets, is the most powerful film I've seen at the (Philadelphia Film) fest so far. Directors Peter Galison and Robb Moss artfully lay out both sides of the argument...maddening and...devastating...the film hear(s) from numerous disagreeing voice...(and) does so with a distinct voice, incorporating hand-drawn animation and art installations to embody concepts. It also displays narrative verve, keeping its own secrets as it teases out the story... While many of the docs I've seen at the fest explore their chosen topics efficiently, and are compelling on that basis alone, this is the first one I've seen here that seems truly crafted." –David Dylan Thomas, Blogcritics Magazine

"...which brings us to the trenchant meta-historical commentary of Secrecy, which was co-directed by Peter Galison and Robb Moss. The documentary probes the legal, political, and psychological aspects of the American government's practice of classifying information and traces it back to World war II. While presenting arguments for and against tight control, the film gradually becomes something more unnerving than an expose, screed, or 'white paper' summation—Secrecy describes a metastasizing mentality that can undermine both its own goals and responsible democracy." –Nicolas Rapold, The New York Sun

"Filmmakers Peter Galison and Robb Moss are sophisticated enough to avoid easy answers and predictable left-wing outrage, focusing instead on the tough issues raised by the institutional use of secrecy, and turning to a diverse and exceedingly well chosen group of lawyers, journalists and government officials to plumb the depths of this rich, and troubling , subject. Moreover, this is an extremely artful, even elegiac piece of cinema, which makes deft use of animation, expressive music and narrative momentum. Such ambitious technique is rarely put to good use in documentaries — usually it's showy and distracting, often at odds with the weighty themes of such films. Most really strong political documentaries, such as Charles Ferguson's No End in Sight, eschew any self-conscious artifice at all. Secrecy goes the other direction, layering its fascinating story with dark beauty, and it merits comparison to the strongest works of masters of the genre like Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) and Errol Morris (The Fog of War)." –PJ Johnston, San Francisco Sentinel

"Illuminating and frightening." –Ian M. Fried, The Seminal

"In a riveting new documentary called Secrecy, former CIA operative Melissa Boyle Mahle tells the damnedest story about how a spy agency can outfox itself by over-classifying its files. Mahle describes how the CIA's Somalia analysts were deprived of intelligence in other parts of the building because they didn't have a 'need to know.' As a result, they were unable to warn U.S. troops that the rag-tag bands ransacking Mogadishu had been trained up by al Qaeda. As a result of that training, they had the wherewithal to bring down American helicopter gunships. 'They were entering the jihad movement,' she says. 'And yet that Somalia analyst never had access to that intelligence.' And so, Blackhawk down. Eight years later came 9/11, famously labeled a failure to 'connect the dots.' Eyewash. The CIA, FBI and others had dots. They hoarded them like marbles. Supposedly, the post-9/11 uber-spook National Intelligence Directorate has solved that problem, although a continuing stream of worrisome reports don't leave one confident.
    But filmmakers Peter Galison and Robb Moss are after far bigger game than insider hijinks in Secrecy, which debuted to stunning reviews at Sundance in January... This vivid and disturbing exposure of the human dimension of the conflict between the government's duty to keep secrets and the peoples' right to know deserves a national audience.... You may think you know everything there is to know about military tribunals and Guantanamo, for example. But watching and listening to a defense lawyer's account of a prison visit — a story that seemed cut from a movie version of a totalitarian state's justice — gave me a new and visceral understanding of how far we've slid...and (the film's) visual power is almost overwhelming." –Jeff Stein, National Security Editor, Congressional Quarterly

"Among the 100 or so documentaries at this year's Vancouver International Film Festival is the first-rate Secrecy. ... Marshalling a high-calibre line-up of interviewees from myriad backgrounds, including government, military, CIA and academia, Peter Galison and Rob Moss tackle this multi-headed and opaque subject with equanimity and balancePoignant interviews with relatives from a landmark case that occurred over a half-century ago place state secrecy within its historical context, with commentators explaining why the "need-to-know" system of the Cold War is less secure today than an open system where information is more freely distributed. The intelligence failure of 9/11, where compartmentalized intelligence services couldn't see the full picture, is contrasted with the breakthrough that followed the Unabomber's screeds being published in the media. Information is power, but which information should be shared and with whom? And who should decide what should be kept secret?" –Robert Alstead, Common Ground

"The inherent tension that exists between the public's right to know and the government's need for confidentiality in the service of national security is the subject of Secrecy, a powerful documentary by Harvard professors Peter Galison and Robb Moss. In addition to historical footage, the film employs a series of pulsating animated drawings, with the white ink against the black background injecting an appropriately unsettling, even sinister tone. Most chilling is the former CIA station chief who defends secrecy on the grounds that it 'allows us the latitude of action to use methods that are not necessarily consistent with our values as a nation.' " –Jean Oppenheimer, The Village Voice

"Enlightening and entertaining." –Noel Murray, AV Club

"In this age of political documentaries, it's always nice to come upon one that strives to be even-handed. Such is the case with Secrecy, which tackles the issue of government secrecy. Is it overused? Does it save lives? Going back to Pearl Harbor in 1941 — which some say could have been avoided if there had been better US intelligence — directors Peter Galison and Robb Moss recall incidents that might have been affected, for good or for bad, by secrecy: the bombing of a Marines barrack in Beirut in 1983, the 1948 crash in Georgia of an Air Force plane that killed three engineers and, of course, Sept. 11, 2001. The directors mix visual innovation with talking heads on both sides of the controversy. Neither side scores a knockout, although the pro-secrecy folks are bloodied." –V.A. Musetto, New York Post

"Secrecy is equal parts history lesson, meditative essay, didactic poem and call to arms. [Secrecyexplores some chilling corridors of the clandestineSecrecy acknowledges the necessity, in principle, of hiding certain types of critical information. In practice, the film finds much to be troubled about, starting with the momentous 1953 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Reynolds that set the legal precedent for the state-secrets privilege and was later revealed to have been founded on dubious grounds. Developing its analysis of what it calls 'the modern secrecy system,' ... the movie touches on the push-pull dynamic of the government versus the press; the culture clash between those shaped by the cold-war paradigm of information hoarding and those alert to the networked sensibility of the Internet era; the private toll of covering up; and the great danger to the public of secrecy for its own sake." –Nathan Lee, The New York Times

"This exceedingly 'fair and balanced' (in the true meaning of the phrase), densely layered scrutiny of the nation's 'disappeared' knowledge warrants viewing—even repeated viewing. ... Secrecy follows in the finest tradition of investigative journalism in documentary films, such as Errol Morris' The Fog of War, Alex Gibney's Oscar-winning Taxi to the Darkside and Charles Ferguson's No End in Sight...This thoroughly researched, finely crafted, intellectually sophisticated documentary reinforces the role that documentary filmmakers seem to have assumed: to question, to ferret out the truth where the traditional media outlets and government bodies often fail. Galison and Moss have done this and more in Secrecy." –Cathleen Rountree,



Mike Levin

Meyer J. "Mike" Levin served four years in the U. S. Army during World War II and was a Field Artillery officer with the Seventh Armored Division in Europe. After the war, he began an intelligence career with the National Security Agency spanning the forty six years between 1947 and 1993. In 1993, he was awarded the nation's highest intelligence honor, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal by the Director of Central Intelligence. After retiring from government, Levin continued to work as a consultant in intelligence matters, and he is still active as a consultant. He has also served on the boards of many civic community groups, and is currently Vice Chair of LABQUEST, a government/community partnership coordinating the consolidation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the Federal Research Center at White Oak, Maryland. Levin was an organizer and first Vice President of the new National Museum of Language and he is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.


Melissa Boyle Mahle

Melissa Boyle Mahle is a former US intelligence officer and expert on the Middle East and Counterterrorism. She joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1988, working in clandestine operations with Near East Division, Directorate of Operations, and was Chief of Base, Jerusalem, 1997-2001. During her time at the Agency, she completed assignments throughout the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa as the Agency's top-ranked female Arabist. She is the author of Denial and Deception: An Insider's View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11 (2004). She received a Presidential Letter of Appreciation for her work on the Middle East Peace Process and numerous exceptional performance awards from the CIA for her recruitment of agents and collection of intelligence. Since leaving the government in 2002, Ms. Mahle has worked as a private consultant on Middle Eastern political and security affairs.


James B. Bruce

James B. Bruce is a Senior Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation's Washington office. Having served for nearly 24 years in a variety of assignments, he retired from the Central Intelligence Agency at the end of 2005 as a senior executive officer. He was a senior staff member of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (Silberman-Robb WMD Commission), and a fellow at CIA's Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis. He previously served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology in the National Intelligence Council, and has held management positions in both the CIA Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Operations. He has authored numerous classified studies including National Intelligence Estimates and his focus on the relationship between U.S. intelligence effectiveness and the protection of sources and methods has highlighted the adverse impact of unauthorized disclosures. His unclassified publications have appeared in Studies in Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Journal, World Politics, and several anthologies. He is the co-editor of and a major contributor to Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations (Georgetown University Press, forthcoming in March, 2008). He has taught graduate courses on intelligence at Georgetown University since 1994 and was previously a faculty member at the National War College.


Steve Garfinkel

Steve Garfinkel was the second Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), from 1980 until 2002. ISOO was established in 1978 by President Carter to oversee the whole of the classified world that fell under Executive Office control, from the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to law enforcement and intelligence organizations including the FBI, CIA, and NSA. As the director of ISOO through many administrations, Garfinkel oversaw a decades-long effort to bring the world of secrets under control. After receiving a law degree from George Washington University Law School in 1970, Garfinkel worked in the General Services Administration's Office of General Counsel, where he was assigned to relatively new areas of the law, including the Freedom of Information Act and civil rights. He has also served as the senior attorney for the National Archives and Records Administration. Among other projects, Garfinkel helped to draft Executive Order 12958 in 1995, establishing the first post-Cold War security-classification system.


Wilson Brown

Wilson M. Brown, III, is an attorney at Drinker Biddle (formerly Drinker, Biddle, and Reath), the firm which originally represented the plaintiffs in United States v. Reynolds (1953). Mr. Brown served as counsel for Patricia (Reynolds) Herring, Judy (Palya) Loether and the other plaintiffs in their efforts since 2003 to have the Supreme Court to reexamine the Reynolds case in light of the declassified information which indicated Air Force fraud and negligence.


Steven Aftergood

Steven Aftergood is a senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. The Federation of American Scientists, founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists, is a non-profit national organization of scientists and engineers concerned with issues of science and national security policy. Having joined its staff in 1989, Aftergood directs the FAS Project on Government Secrecy, which works to reduce the scope of government secrecy and to promote reform of official secrecy practices. He is also the author of Secrecy News, an email newsletter (and blog) which reports on new developments in secrecy policy for more than 10,000 subscribers in media, government, and among the general public. He has authored or co-authored papers and essays in Scientific American, Science, New Scientist, Journal of Geophysical Research, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, and Issues in Science and Technology, on topics including space nuclear power, atmospheric effects of launch vehicles, and government information policy.


Charles Swift

Lt. Commander Charles D. Swift is a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) in the U.S. Navy, Judge Advocate General's Corps, and is best known for being the legal counsel of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, and along with Neal Katyal was successful in winning the United States Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006). Swift and Katyal successfully argued that the military commission that tried Hamdan violated U.S. law as well as the Geneva Conventions. Despite being named one of the "100 most influential lawyers in America" by the National Law Journal in 2006 and a runner-up for Lawyer of the Year by the National Law Journal in 2005, he learned two weeks after the Hamdan decision that he would be passed up for promotion and was forced into retirement under the military's "up or out" promotion policy.


Tom Blanton

Thomas S. Blanton is Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington D.C., which the Los Angeles Times has described as "the world's largest nongovernmental library of declassified documents." Blanton served as the Archive's first Director of Planning & Research beginning in 1986, became Deputy Director in 1989, and Executive Director in 1992. He filed his first Freedom of Information Act request in 1976 as a weekly newspaper reporter in Minnesota. Included among many hundreds that he has filed subsequently was the FOIA request (and subsequent lawsuit with Public Citizen Litigation Group) that forced the release of Oliver North's Iran-contra diaries in 1990. He has authored numerous books and articles that have appeared in major news outlets.


Ben Wizner

Ben Wizner has been a staff attorney at the ACLU since 2001, specializing in national security, human rights, and first amendment issues. He has litigated several post-9/11 civil liberties cases in which the government has invoked the state secrets privilege, including El-Masri v. United States (a challenge to the CIA's abduction, detention, and torture of an innocent German citizen); Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.(a suit against a private aviation services company for facilitating the CIA's rendition to torture of five Muslim men); and Edmonds v. Department of Justice (a whistleblower retaliation suit on behalf of an FBI translator fired for reporting serious misconduct). Wizner was a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law.


Barton Gellman

Barton Gellman is a special projects reporter on the national staff of the Washington Post, following tours as diplomatic correspondent, Jerusalem bureau chief, Pentagon correspondent, and D.C. Superior Court reporter. He shared the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2002 and has been a jury-nominated finalist (for individual and team entries) three times. His work has also been honored by the Overseas Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists (Sigma Delta Chi), and American Society of Newspaper Editors. Gellman earned a masters degree in politics at University College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of Contending with Kennan: Toward a Philosophy of American Power, a study of the post-World War II "containment" doctrine and its architect, George F. Kennan. He has broken a number of major stories in The Washington Post, including the "Ring Around Washington," an account of a failed nuclear terrorism detection system erected by the Bush administration in secret in 2001.


Patricia J. Herring

Patricia J. Herring (formerly Patricia J. Reynolds) was a participant in the United States Supreme Court case United States v. Reynolds (1953), a landmark case which established the "state secrets privilege." She was the widow of Robert Reynolds, an employee of Radio Corporation of America, an Air Force contractor, who along with eight other men were killed during a crash of a B-29 bomber testing experimental equipment in 1948. Herring, and two other widows, sued the Air Force for full disclosure of the Air Force accident report; the Air Force claimed that the report contained information pertaining to "secret electronic equipment" and refused to provide the information, which the Supreme Court 6-3 upheld without having seen the reports in question, setting a legal precedent which has been invoked many times since then. In 2000, the maintenance reports in question were discovered to have been declassified and were found to not only not contain any information pertaining to the equipment at all, but to also include evidence of Air Force negligence in regards to maintaining the plane in working order. Herring, since remarried, has filed multiple petitions with the Supreme Court to re-examine the case, starting in 2003, but they have been repeatedly denied, most recently in March 2006.


Siegfried Hecker

Siegfried S. Hecker was Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1986 until 1997, and prior to that was head of the laboratory's Materials Science and Technology Division. He is a metallurgist by training, having earned his BS, MS, and PhD from Case Western Reserve University. Hecker's research interests include plutonium science, nuclear weapon policy and international security, nuclear security (including nonproliferation and counter terrorism), and cooperative nuclear threat reduction. Over the past 15 years, he has fostered cooperation with the Russian nuclear laboratories to secure and safeguard the vast stockpile of ex-Soviet fissile materials. His current interests include the challenges of nuclear India, Pakistan, North Korea, and the nuclear aspirations of Iran. He is a co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Hecker has been part of multiple delegations that have visited North Korea to discuss their nuclear program, including one in January 2004, where he was allowed to view and hold North Korean plutonium, and another in November 2006, only weeks after the first North Korean nuclear test.


Neal Katyal

Neal K. Katyal, a Professor at Georgetown University Law School, won Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a case that challenged the policy of military trials at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba, in the United States Supreme Court in June 2006 along with Lt. Commander Charles Swift. The Supreme Court sided with him by a 5-3 vote, finding that President Bush's tribunals violated the constitutional separation of powers, domestic military law, and international law. Katyal previously served as National Security Adviser in the U.S. Justice Department and was commissioned by President Clinton to write a report on the need for more legal pro bono work. He also served as Vice President Al Gore's co-counsel in the Supreme Court election dispute of 2000, and represented the Deans of most major private law schools in the landmark University of Michigan affirmative-action case Grutter v. Bollinger (2003). Among many other accolades, Katyal was named Lawyer of the Year in 2006 by Lawyers USA, Runner-Up for Lawyer of the Year 2006 by National Law Journal, and one of the top 50 litigators nationwide 45 years old or younger by American Lawyer (2007).



Judy (Palya) Loether

Judy (Palya) Loether is the daughter of Al Payla, one of the RCA employees killed in a 1949 crash of a B-29 while conducting military electronics research. Her mother was a plaintiff in the Supreme Court case which established the "state secrets privilege," United States v. Reynolds (1953) when the Air Force denied the widows of the victims access to the crash accident report. In February 2000, Ms. Loether found that the complete accident report from the 1949 crash had since been declassified four years earlier, and discovered that it contained no confidential details about the equipment being tested on the B-29. Instead, she found that the reports indicated that numerous maintenance orders had not been complied with, implying negligence on the part of the Air Force. Ms. Loether then got in contact with the plaintiffs from the original Reynolds case, including Patricia (Reynolds) Herring, as well as with the then-head of litigation (Wilson M. Brown) of the law firm that had represented them. Since 2003, the Reynoldsplaintiffs have attempted to have the Supreme Court to reexamine the Reynolds case in light of the declassified information which indicated Air Force fraud and negligence.


Redacted Pictures, in association with Impact Partners presents


A film by Peter Galison and Robb Moss

directed by


edited by

directors of photography


the filmmakers gratefully acknowledge





co-executive producers







associate producers





project advisors




special thanks







sound recording

supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer

background design









limit-telephotography, Afghanistan

archival research


additional camera

additional music








dialogue editor

additional sound effects editor

assistant sound editor


production assistance



still photography


key grip


camera assistant





on-line editors

Peter Galison

Robb Moss

Chyld King

Austin de Besche

Stephen McCarthy

The MacArthur Foundation

The Ford Foundation

The Sundance Documentary Fund

The LEF Foundation

The Film Study Center, Harvard University

Diana Barrett for The Fledgling Fund

Emily & David Pottruck

The Kevin & Donna Gruneich Foundation

Jim & Susan Swartz

Peter Galison

Robb Moss

Chyld King

Caitlin Boyle

Emily Jansen

Ann S. Kim

Beth Sternheimer

Tricia Wilk

Lincoln Caplan

Jack Goldsmith

Pamela Hogan

Martha Minow

Sabra Brown

Marion Greene

Caroline A. Jones

Jean Kendall

Lyda Kuth

Arthur Segel

John Kusiak

Mario Cardenas

Coll Anderson M.P.S.E.

Elaine J. McCarthy

Ruth Lingford

Lisa Haber-Thomson

Tim Szetela

David Stuart

Mark Hansen

Jenny Holzer

Ben Rubin

Jim Sanbor

Trevor Paglen

Rich Remsberg

Emily Jansen

Jeremy Leach

P. Andrew Willis

Sato Knudsen: Cello

John Kusiak: Guitar and Synthesizer

Ronan Lefkowitz: Violin

Billy Novick: Clarinet

Bill Reynolds: Drums

Richard Sebring: French Horn

P. Andrew Willis: Guitar and Synthesizer

Stephen Barden M.P.S.E.

Mark Filip

Matt Snedecor

Alex Wellerstein

Derek Frank

Brian Samuels

Randy Ward

Samathana van Gerbig

Brant Fagan

Tom Doran

Philip Darrell

Joseph Christofori

Josh Braun, Submarine Entertainment

Peter Broderick, Paradigm Consulting

Jim Browne, Argot Pictures Louise Rosen, Louise Rosen Ltd.

The OutPost

Julie Kahn

Jim Ferguson

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift notes his views are his own and not necessarily those of the Department of the Navy.

with thanks:

Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, Kate Amend, Alexandra Anthony, Steve Ascher, Orlando Bagwell, Jean-Philippe Boucicaut, John Bracken, Allan Brandt, Stanley Cavell, Dan Cogan, J.D. Connor, Marcus Dahmen, Carl Deal, Lewis Erskine, Kristin Feeley, Geoffrey Gilmore, Alfred Guzzetti, E.L. Harvey & Sons, Jeanne Jordan, Michael Kelley, Shannon Kelley, Judith Lajoie, Mary Lampson, Tia Lessin, Ross McElwee, Cara Mertes, Linda Morgenstern, The Milton Fund, NARA (Waltham, MA), Dennis Olofson, Anna Petrone, Anna Prouix, Karen Schmeer, Joan Scott, Bryan Siebert, Lucien Taylor, Deborah Valdovinos, Allison Walker, Barry Wasserman, Michael Weber, Diane Weyermann

archival materials

ABCNEWS VideoSource
ABC World News Tonight
Air Power Stock Library
AP Images
Battlegrounds Productions
BBC Motion Gallery
The Boston Globe
Corbis Defense Visual
Todd Crespi
Information Center
F.I.L.M. Archives
Film Images
FootageBank HD
Getty Images
John M. Horan
ITN Source
Mark Jackson
Journeyman Library
The Los Angeles Times

MacDonald & Associates
Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos
Nat'l Archives & Records Admin.
NBC News Archives
The New York Times
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Produces Library
Silverman Stock Footage
Stock Video
Streamline Films
Thought Equity
The Toronto Star
Larry Towell/Magnum Photos
USA Today
The Washington Post
Alex Webb/Magnum Photos
Adam Wiseman/Magnum Photos


Produced with the support of The Film Study Center, Harvard University

Developed with Assistance and a Grant from the Sundance Institute Documentary Project

© Redacted Pictures 2008

Exhibition history

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February 2010


The Sundance Film Festival - PREMIERE

The Berlin Film Festival "Straight from Sundance" Sidebar at The European Film Market

South By Southwest

Harvard Film Archive

Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, NJ

Quebec Film Festival

Wisconsin Film Festival

Philadelphia Film Festival

Ashland Independent Film Festival, Ashland, OR

Conference on New Media, Aberdeen, Scotland

Palm Beach Film Festival, FL

Del Rey Film Festival, FL

Tribeca Film Festival, NYC

Independent Film Festival, Boston - WINNER, Special Jury Award for Documentary Features

RiverRun Film Festival, Winston-Salem, NC

San Francisco International Film Festival

High Falls Film Festival, Rochester, NY

Maui Film Festival, Hawaii

Einstein Forum, "Hidden," Berlin, Germany

ACLU National Meeting Washington, D.C.

Newport Film Festival - WINNER, Best Documentary

Nantucket Film Festival, MA

Jerusalem Film Festival

Woods Hole Film Festival

Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN

Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL

Big Sky Film Series, Missoula, MT

State Theatre, Traverse City, MI

Cinema Village, New York, NY

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

Palace Theater, Hilo, HI

Northwest Film Center, Portland, OR

Newburyport Film Festival, Newburyport, MA

Camden International Film Festival

Global Peace Film Festival, Orlando, FL

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

International Film Series, Boulder, CO

Northwest Film Forum, Seattle, WA

AFI Silver, Silver Spring, MD

Belcourt Theatre, Nashville, TN

Laemmle's Music Hall, Los Angeles, CA

Epcor Centre for the Arts, Movies that Matter Series, Calgary, Canada

Alamo Ritz, Austin, TX

Guild Cinema, Albuquerque, NM

Landmark's Opera Plaza, San Francisco, CA

Denver Film Society, Denver, CO

Warsaw Film Festival

Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, Brazil

Vancouver Film Festival, BC

Social Law Library, Boston

First Amendment Conference, UC Berkeley

History of Science Society Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA

Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH

Cleveland Cinematheque, Cleveland, OH

Gallatin Lecture Series, New York University, New York, NY

Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Cucalorus Film Festival, Wilmington, NC

Ross Media Arts Center, Lincoln, NE

Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT

Webster University Film Series, St. Louis, MO

Arts & Lecture Series, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Sundance Channel

Honolulu Academy of the Arts, Honolulu, HI

Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA

Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Greece

Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA

Humanities Center, Harvard University

Vancouver International Film Centre, Vancouver, BC

University of Paris-Diderot, Institut Charles V, Paris, France

The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

American Civil Liberties Union, South Central Pennsylvania Chapter, Harrisburg, PA

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

American Civil Liberties Union, Oregon Chapter, Eugene OR

American Association of Physics Teachers, College Park, MD