‘Whether the Damage to Secrecy Outweighs the Public Good Is a Judgment Call,’ Expert Says of Secret Memo

Article ID: 688810

Released: 1-Feb-2018 12:05 PM EST

Source Newsroom: Northwestern University

Expert Pitch
  • Credit: Northwestern University

    Juliet Sorensen

  • Credit: Northwestern University

    Jon Marshall

  • Credit: Northwestern University

    Ronald J. Allen

  • Credit: Northwestern University

    Eugene Kontorovich

CHICAGO --- Professors from Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law and a professor from the Medill School of Journalism are available to comment on the ramifications of releasing a controversial House Intelligence Committee memo, which Republican lawmakers say reveals the FBI was biased against the president and abused its surveillance tools in the Russia investigation.

Democrats say the memo is actually an attempt to undermine the special counsel’s investigation into the Russians’ backing of the 2016 presidential election.


Juliet Sorensen is director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and the Harry R. Horrow Professor in International Law. From 2003-2010, Sorensen was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, focusing on fraud and public corruption. She can be reached at 312-503-1482 (office) or 
j-sorensen@law.northwestern.edu.


Jon Marshall is an assistant professor at Northwestern’s Medill School and author of “Watergate’s Legacy and the Press: The Investigative Impulse.” He can be reached at j-marshall@northwestern.edu. (Professor Marshall has limited availability Thursday but will have more time to talk to media Friday.)

Quote from Professor Marshall

“President Trump and the GOP Congress are taking a radically different approach to law-enforcement agencies than the Nixon White House did during Watergate. Nixon and his aides used the media to publicly praise the FBI’s and Justice Department’s investigations of Watergate crimes while secretly working to limit and sabotage those investigations. In contrast, the Trump administration and congressional Republicans are aggressively bashing the integrity of the FBI and Justice Department in the hopes of discrediting the investigations of his campaign and White House.”


Ronald Allen, the John Henry Wigmore Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and a constitutional and criminal law expert, may be reached at rjallen@law.northwestern.edu or 312-503-8372 (office).


Eugene Kontorovich is a professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. He specializes in constitutional law, federal courts and public international law. He can be reached at e-kontorovich@law.northwestern.edu or 323-443-8591 (mobile).

Quote from Professor Kontorovich

“The desire of the intelligence community for secrecy is valid and commendable. At the same time, if the intelligence community has been used to subvert the political system or undermine civil liberties, such secrecy can shield wrongdoing. This is the classic conflict between democracy and national security, with an ironic reversal of the relative emphasis put on these considerations by the various political parties.

“Publishing the memo is certainly unusual, but so are the alleged abuses. Whether the damage to secrecy outweighs the public good is a judgment call, but we elect legislators and executives precisely to exercise such judgment. The resistance of the bureaucracy to the release is unsurprising -- the swamp does not want to be drained.”


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