Glenn Greenwald's book, No Place to Hide, officially hit the stands (or the ebook purveyor of your choice) today, documenting his introduction to National Security Agency NSA's whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden and the many revelations of the vast reach of the NSA.
Greenwald has been making the media rounds (he will appear on The Independents, co-hosted by our own Matt Welch, this evening) and reviews have begun to appear. Over at Slate, reviewer Emily Bazelon observes that Greenwald isn't afraid to name names when he's noting journalists he believes have decided to toe the establishment line and criticize Greenwald for his scoops:
Greenwald skewers the media outlets and individual journalists who he believes proved his point about how "subservient to the government's interests" the press can be. He thinks the New York Times has become a "mouthpiece for those in power." And he singles out Bob Schieffer of Face the Nation, Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times, and Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker for wrong-footedly denouncing Snowden, Greenwald, or both as narcissists, plotters, or traitors. Some (genius) members of the press justified the idea of prosecuting Greenwald along with Snowden by insisting that he wasn't a journalist at all. Beginning with the Times, in a profile that appeared soon after the first Snowden-driven stories, reporters and columnists labeled Greenwald a "blogger," a "polemicist," or an "activist" to more easily dismiss him. Never mind that Greenwald was publishing article after investigative article in the Guardian based on the biggest scoop in half a century. (He's now working on a Pierre Omidyar-funded investigative journalism startup, and he promises in GQ this month that the biggest Snowden shoe is yet to drop.)
The Christian Science Monitor describes what Snowden saw and what attracted him to Greenwald:
Snowden, it turns out, was a fan of Greenwald's reporting. He liked Greenwald's criticism of America's post-9/11 security policies, including the warrantless wiretapping during George W. Bush's tenure. Snowden invited Greenwald and another journalist to be the first to report on what he knew and the documents he had stolen. As shocking as anything else in this book is the fact that these three individuals – months after documents had been downloaded – appeared to be the only ones who were aware that America's secrets had been compromised.
By 2010, having left the CIA, Snowden was working on NSA projects as a Dell Corporation employee. He had become disillusioned: "The stuff I saw really began to disturb me. I could watch drones in real time as they surveilled the people they might kill. You could watch entire villages and see what everyone was doing. I watched NSA tracking people's Internet activity as they typed. I became aware of how invasive US surveillance capabilities had become.… And almost nobody knew it was happening."
The book contains pages of slides and documents Snowden provided Greenwald that served as the basis of much of the bombshell reporting. Some have not been seen before. All of them have actually been posted online already. Despite the constant insistence by the NSA that the data collection is all about fighting terrorism, plenty of the slides show the data gathering being used for surveillance and snooping that is more about world economic issues, diplomatic relations, and suggests the data will be of interest to other agencies, one of the big fears of those concerned about domestic civil liberties. Take note of one slide below:
Looking for more libertarian responses to government surveillance? Check out our October 2013 edition online, which explored the Obama Administration's overreaches in monitoring.