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No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State Paperback – April 28, 2015
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This is not a book written for the purpose of telling you the US government is watching your every step and every move, everyone knows that. And the author did not waste time replicating news articles you've already read through the media outlets. I finished this book within 5 hours, and thought it was well written and well worth your time.
Greenwald, one of the original journalists who revealed Snowden's leaks last year, did a remarkably good job on going over the history of U.S.'s surveillance tactics. In his new book, No Place to Hide, Greenwald briefly goes over his adventures/experience on meeting with Edward Snowden and revealing US's NSA surveillance program. Greenwald explains the difficulties and obstacles that were involved before the story went live, mostly by reluctant lawyers, and news agencies such as NYT and Washington Post. For those curious, Greenwald also explains in detail the true intentions of Edward Snowden.
Later chapters of the book reveal Greenwald's opinion on the recent NSA leaks, and his classification of US as a surveillance state.
Keep in mind that Greenwald was previously a columnist, and his writing style of a columnist is clearly seen throughout the book. This is not merely a book with facts, but a book with opinion, with logical and concrete evidence that not just the U.S., but other state actors are well, are progressing into what George Orwell wrote in his infamous 1984 novel (Orwellian state).
Greenwald ends the book by warning the consequences involved as we progress into the Orwellian state and the issue of journalists not being journalists, but being government puppets instead.
This is a highly recommended book for those who wish to read into detail one of the biggest government leaks in the history.
The author of this book makes a good case for the morality behind Snowden’s decision, and therefore readers who formally viewed Snowden as a “criminal” or a “narcissist” may make a different assessment of his character after finishing the book. There is no doubt that Snowden did not view his decision as one of self-aggrandizement, and in fact exercised restraint in the sense he chose to not reveal information that could put people at severe risk. It might be a leap to call Snowden a “hero”, but he certainly possesses a level of intestinal fortitude that is unmatched by anyone in the government, whether the United States government or otherwise.
The details of some of the revealed information are included in this book as images, with some of them actually looking as though they originated in PowerPoint presentations. That this may be the case reflects the obsession that many, especially those connected with the Department of Defense (DoD), have in using PowerPoint to not only summarize ideas but also to codify the information in them as valid, authentic, or profound. Therefore it was difficult for the reviewer to accept the author’s (implicit) premise that the information in these images as reflecting anything of genuine importance to those readers who want to understand the extent of the NSA’s illegal surveillance. Typical government/DoD PowerPoint presentations, even though quite impressive from an artistic point of view, reflect a naiveté about scientific and technological matters in general. There is no reason to believe that this is not the case also for the NSA, in spite of the imputation of technical and mathematical competence given to it.
And this raises the further question as to the efficacy of the NSA in doing the analysis and data mining that would actually put individual privacy at risk. Many in the press have claimed that the NSA hires thousands of mathematicians and analysts and this is no doubt true. But what is not obvious from the press or from this book is the extent that this technical pseudo-army is able to extract damaging information about citizens or indeed any really useful information at all. The mere presence of thousands of analysts and mathematicians in a government agency may reflect the usual practice of patronage and other faulty and unethical governmental hiring practices rather than actual technical competence.
But one could also argue, and it seems to be the belief of the author, that the NSA is technically competent to use the gathered information to find individuals who it deems are “harmful” to the interests of the United States. Then since the NSA has no qualms in violating the constitutional rights of US citizens by collecting “metadata” then it would not be an unreasonable assumption that it would collect the actual content of phone calls, Email messages, and so on. It would also not be unreasonable to assume that the NSA would deliberately alter the content of messages and phone calls in order to embarrass certain individuals or groups as part of their security strategy or simply from just pure meanness. There is ample precedent in history for the meanness of governments.