Book Reviews

Glenn Greenwald's No Place to Hide Reveals the Secrets Behind Edward Snowden's Revelations

A pulse-racing exposé of the government's conspiracy to violate every American's right to privacy

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MacMillan Publishers

With heart-pounding suspense, John le Carre-like intrigue, and Jeffersonian fidelity to the principles of human freedom, Glenn Greenwald has just published No Place to Hide. The book, which reads like a thriller, is Greenwald's story of his nonstop two weeks of work in May and June of 2013 in Hong Kong with former CIA agent and NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald was the point person who coordinated the public release of the 1.7 million pages of NSA documents that Snowden took with him in order to prove definitively that the federal government is spying on all of us all the time.

The revelations constituted for Greenwald the scoop of the century; for Snowden, the exposure of massive government violations of basic constitutional principles by his former bosses; for the NSA and the Bush and Obama administrations, the revelation of criminal wrongdoing orchestrated by two presidents themselves; and for the American public, a painful realization that the Constitution is only as valuable a restraint on the government as is the fidelity to uphold it of those in whose hands we have reposed it for safekeeping. As Greenwald makes clear, it is not in good hands.

No Place to Hide not only tells of Snowden's initially frustrating and anonymous efforts to reach out to Greenwald and the others; it not only carefully explains the insatiable appetite of the NSA to learn everything about everyone ("Collect it all" was a continuously posted NSA motto). It is also a morality tale about the personal courage required of Snowden and Greenwald and his colleagues to expose government wrongdoing and the risk to their lives, liberties, and properties in doing so.

In the midst of one of their endless Hong Kong hotel meetings, Snowden told the journalists that the local CIA station employed agents trained to kill; and it was just a few blocks away. Then The Guardian's lawyers informed Greenwald that the Bush and Obama administrations had not hesitated to use the Espionage Act of 1917—a World War I-era relic, still on the books, employed to chill, stifle, suppress and ultimately punish free speech—to attempt to lock up journalists even when they revealed the truth. At this point in my reading the book on Memorial Day, I noticed that my pulse was racing, even though I obviously knew the outcome.

The road to the outcome began about a year ago when Greenwald received email messages from an anonymous yet persistent and intellectually intriguing source. The source demonstrated such a superb command of the Internet, such a patient understanding of Greenwald's need for a basic education in the craft of digital spying, such a Jeffersonian understanding of the constitutional role of government in our lives, and so enticed Greenwald and his editors at The Guardian that, sight unseen, they traveled to Hong Kong to see whether the source possessed the documentary evidence he claimed to have of the most massive and sophisticated American government spying upon innocents in our history. He did.

Greenwald skillfully uses NSA documents to demonstrate that the highest government officials to discuss this spying in public—President Bush, President Obama, Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former NSA boss Gen. Keith Alexander—all lied to the American public, (in the case of Clapper and Alexander, they probably did so criminally, as they were testifying to Congress), and they engaged in a conspiracy to violate the constitutionally protected rights to privacy of every American. After initially denying all this, then disparaging Snowden, then questioning his loyalty, then questioning his sanity, the government reluctantly admitted to all that Snowden revealed. How could it not? Snowden's revelations consist entirely of the NSA's own documents, many of which are reproduced in Greenwald's book.

The government has argued that when it engages in all this spying, it is looking for a needle in a haystack. It claims it can only keep us safe if it knows all and sees all. Yet, such an argument cannot be made with intellectual honesty by anyone who has sworn to uphold the Constitution.

The Constitution was written to keep the government off of the people's backs. The Constitution protects the right to be left alone and the right to be different. The Constitution presupposes the existence of natural rights and areas of human endeavor that are insulated from government knowledge and immune to government regulation, except in the most carefully prescribed circumstances. Those circumstances require that probable cause of crime be possessed by the government about identifiable persons and demonstrated to a neutral judge before the government may engage in any surveillance of that person—and all those NSA conspirators and all their judicial facilitators know this.

And what has Congress done in response to all this indiscriminate spying—spying that we now know is done upon members of Congress themselves? The Senate has done nothing, yet. The House passed legislation last week called the USA Freedom Act. This deceptively entitled nonsense so muddies the legal waters with ambiguous language that if enacted into law, the bill actually would strengthen the ability of the NSA to spy on all of us all the time. Is it any surprise that Obama and the NSA leadership support these so-called reforms?

The duty of government is to keep us free and to keep our freedoms safe. If it fails to protect freedom, it should be replaced. If it continues to spy on all of us all the time, then Greenwald's title—taken from a warning issued by the late Sen. Frank Church in the pre-Internet era—will have come to pass. We will have no place to hide and no freedoms left to exercise without the government's approval.

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  1. Anyone who reads this book should be hanged as a traitor.

    1. Man up and face what’s coming to you, Fist. They promise they will be fair.

      1. I’m handing Putin all my commenting secrets.

        1. I just…well…I had always thought you *were* Putin, what with the firsts and all. I mean, shooting bears, riding horses, shooting horses while riding bears, consistent firsts at H&R, all very impressive Alpha KGB stuff.

      2. Why is John Kerry not a laughing stock in this country?

        First, regarding Ukraine, he tells Russia that “all options are on the table”. For decades this phrase has been code for “yes, we have nukes.” Then a few weeks later, if that, Obama states that military force is not an option for the U.S. regarding Ukraine.

        Now this knob tells Snowden to “man up”?!? Like what Snowden did didn’t take guts?

        1. Why is John Kerry not a laughing stock in this country?

          Do you know anyone who takes this government’s foreign policy seriously anymore?

    2. Hanged by the what?

      1. I admire your….flexibility…

        1. It’s those kegel exercises she does.

  2. It really, really, really pisses me off that the media – and probably a majority of the public – let our overlords sit there and sternly call for Edward Snowden to “face justice” without immediately turning the tables on them and asking them which members of the administration are volunteering to “man up” and face justice for their crimes against the American people.

    I know better than to expect any such behavior of course, but it still REALLY pisses me off.

    1. Hell, they won’t even man up to fire anyone or resign for the complete, utter, and inexplicable incompetence they’ve shown in letting Manning or Snowden do what they did.

      I guess we should take comfort in the fact that they are incompetent. God knows what shape we’d be in if they were more efficient in spying, killing, etc.

    2. You don’t get it, Monocle. Unlike Mr. Snowden, the overlords have the good of the country in mind …. Let me try again. Unlike Snowden, they are only attempting to keep us free …. Sheesh! OK, *they* follow the guidance our Founding Fathers set forth …. Well, guess *I* don’t get it, either. 8-(

  3. Mike Church had a nice segment this AM contrasting John Kerry’s testimony before Congress about Viet Nam with his statements now that Snowden is a “coward and a traitor”.

    So exposing the government’s misdeeds – check that – people’s misdeeds in the name of government – is A-OK in the 70’s, but not now.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but at least Viet Nam was a miserable exercise against someone ELSE. This NSA bullshit is the US gummint abusing ITS OWN CITIZENS! FUCK!

    Anyway – Nobel for Snowden, Pulitzer for Greenwald, fuck Kerry, fuck Obama, fuck California, and fuck you.

    1. Nobel for Snowden, Pulitzer for Greenwald, fuck Kerry, fuck Obama, fuck California, and fuck you.

      I’ll take one tee shirt and two bumper stickers.

      1. My people are on it!

      2. Just need to add “cut spending” to the very end.

    2. Whatever can be said about Snowden, all of the officials involved should be removed from office and, in at least some cases, criminally prosecuted. Where’s the call for that? In fact, where’s the call for the dismissal of whoever was responsible for the gross negligence at the NSA in security? Not even that?

      There’s a word for a system of government without accountability, legitimacy, or limits. And that word isn’t “republic” or “democracy.”

      1. and, in at least some cases, criminally prosecuted

        Let’s just go ahead and make that in all cases. I mean, if they’ve done nothing wrong then surely they can bravely face a little criminal trial? They probably won’t even be tortured for years beforehand!

        1. Whoever committed crimes should be prosecuted if the evidence is there. And it looks like it is there.

          1. Retroactive pardons years after nobody was charged.

      2. where’s the call for the dismissal of whoever was responsible for the gross negligence at the NSA in security?

        In some ways, this is the most amazing thing about the whole ordeal. Has anyone in “authority” even *mentioned* this blatant fuck-up, much less “apologized” for it or indicated it would be “looked into” or “improved”?

        1. They need to man up and resign.

      3. Pro Libertate|5.29.14 @ 7:49AM|#

        Whatever can be said about Snowden, all of the officials involved should be removed from office and, in at least some cases, criminally prosecuted.”

        FAKE SCANDAL !!

        We could just condemn them to have to use the VA for their and their families healthcare FOR LIFE.

    3. Fuck Michigan!

      1. *flipping you the mitten*

        1. Fuck everything! Let God sort it out!

          1. Warty can fuck himself.

          2. STEVE SMITH HAVE THIS AS PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY!

  4. Boooooooooooooooooooooosh!

    OK, got that out of the way. Just wanted to get out ahead of it.

    1. NEEDZ MOAR CHRISTFAG

      1. As inane as shreek can be, which is a whole lot of inane, you do have to give him credit for that particular contribution to the vernacular.

  5. There’s a word for a system of government without accountability, legitimacy, or limits. And that word isn’t “republic” or “democracy.”

    But the government is US, silly. What could be more democratic than that?

    1. What if the government was *one* of us ….

      1. Government is *all* of us! Do you vote? Then you’re part of government! By voting you accept the outcomes! If you don’t vote then you have no right to complain! No matter what you must accept everything government does because We The People!

        1. Whoa, man. I’m just trying to make my way home.

        2. By not voting I have every right to complain about the mess you voters created (channeling George Carlin)

  6. Shouldn’t the title of this article be ” What if Andrew Napolitano reviewed No Place to Hide”?

  7. The House passed legislation last week called the USA Freedom Act. This deceptively entitled nonsense so muddies the legal waters with ambiguous language that if enacted into law, the bill actually would strengthen the ability of the NSA to spy on all of us all the time.

    [insert expostulation of incredulous astonishment]

    1. What Congressional bill does not carry an Orwellian label these days.

      It’s almost as though they do it on purpose and laugh behind our backs, or maybe even to our face.

  8. TRAITOR

    Kerry said if Snowden was a patriot, he wouldn’t seek asylum elsewhere:

    “Edward Snowden is a coward. He is a traitor. And he has betrayed his country. And if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.”

    Well, If John Kerry says so, that’s good enough for me.

    1. It would have be funnier if Kerry had said Snowden should “grow a pair”.

      1. Kerry’s [chin] is bigger than Snowden’s.

    2. I expect that the NSA director will man up and take what’s coming to him for directing illegal activities and then perjuring himself before Congress when asked about them, right?

      1. Sure, because “what’s coming to him” is “nothing else happened” and a comfy retirement of consulting and speaking arrangements.

        1. No fucking way. We’ve had unhinged people trying to kill presidents for way less than this (and getting very close or succeeding). I don’t think his security detail’s nearly as big.

          I give the fucker 10 years max before someone puts a couple extra holes in him. And yes, I’d vote to acquit.

    3. John: Edward, come over here.

      Edward: Why?

      John: Because I want these very large gentlemen to hold you down while I beat and torture you, before throwing you in a cage until such point in time when we can justify your execution.

      Edward: No thanks.

      John: Pussy.

  9. and all those NSA conspirators and all their judicial facilitators fellators know this

    Here to help, Judge

  10. Perhaps someone could explain why the vast majority of Snowden/Greenwald releases have nothing to do with Domestic spying, and seem to be designed specifically to destroy US foreign relations?

    1. Like the State Department needs any help.

  11. Assange Snowden Kerry Putin

    1. I had arrows in between them, several of which were in between Snowden and Kerry.

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