May secret uses of power by democratic states be a legitimate exercise of democratic authority? The concerns about and the conditions of the democratic authority of secret exercises of political power have hitherto been argued to reside in the substantial and procedural side-constraints on the exercise of political authority. This essay approaches the problem of secrecy in democratic governance from a new angle by linking the problem of secret uses of power to the formal features of political authority, namely, its content-independent character. The focus is thus not on how political authority ought to be exercised but, instead, on what political authority exercised by democratic states is. In this context, the essay revisits Dennis Thompson’s seminal defense of secrecy in democratic states.

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