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The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the…
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The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man (2014)

by Luke Harding

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This is an amazing account of whistle-blower Edward Snowden and his leak of intelligence documents to the press concerning the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs conducted against nearly all U.S. citizens, as well as those abroad, even including heads of state of allied countries. This release sparked debates worldwide about the needs for mass surveillance that infringe on our civil liberties and rights to privacy, as well as the need for a free press. Shockingly, the country even more zealous than ours in seeing this situation resolved in favor of its intelligence community was Britain, who citizens do not have a Bill of Rights with freedom of speech and the press to protect them from such invasive actions. The claims that all of this is necessary in the fight against terrorism lacks strength when no one can prove that even one terrorist attack has been thwarted due to these practices. As I write this I am in horror that because it is being posted on the Internet, I can be put on some government watch list simply because I commend Snowden for his actions in making us all aware of what our government has been doing to us. Making this worse is the fact that he was forced to seek asylum in Russia of all places because he is safer there! We have much to be ashamed of. I think of Snowden as being similar to Daniel Ellsberg and hope that our government does the responsible thing – enact meaningful curbs on such intelligence gathering with realistic oversight and brings Snowden home to the U.S.A. I can’t wait to see the movie. ( )
  Susan.Macura | Sep 19, 2016 |
A dry subject was very well written as a chronological thriller. I particularly enjoyed this, especially the chapters on the negotiations between the US govt and the Guardian. The chapter on the UK govt's reaction made my blood boil more than a little. An excellent read. ( )
  JW1949 | Aug 31, 2016 |
When the Patriot Act first passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, I was part of a group that organized panel discussions and protests against the act. The kind of wholesale surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden was exactly the kind of thing, we feared, for which the Patriot Act paved the way. And although the consensus (as far as there is one) seems to be that the post-9/11 surveillance techniques of the NSA over-reach even the provisions of the Patriot Act, the law allowed for just a little hop-skip to the place where we are today. So, while my inclination is to say, "I told you so," no one really cares what I thought when the act was first passed so why bother saying it?

A commenter on the radio asserted that the U.S. is divided into two camps, those who think Edward Snowden is a hero and a patriot and those who think he's a traitor. I would argue there's a third camp of people who know his name but don't know anything else about him, but the division is the source of the point I'm trying to make. I've been inclined to think of Snowden as a hero from the beginning, and I'm even more inclined to think so after reading The Snowden Files. I'm also inclined to ask my many computer-savvy friends for advice on encryption software for my laptop. Not because I'm engaged in illegal activities, but that's the whole point: the NSA is hoovering up data from everyone, not just from suspected terrorists. If I pissed off someone in the government, I'm sure they could come up with enough evidence from my internet search history and my library records to cobble together a case against me, or against anyone.

The thing I don't quite understand is why more people---myself included---aren't totally up-in-arms (figuratively speaking) about Snowden's revelations. Why are so many of us just going about business as usual? Is it because we assume we have nothing to hide, and so we're leaving things be and letting it up to the journalists to be targeted as terrorists for reporting government actions that flout our rights under the Constitution? Or is it because we already assumed we had no privacy and so this new information doesn't really bother us? As one friend puts it, "I assume they already have all of my information anyway."

But about the book: I enjoyed this book. It was a pleasant (if disturbing) read. I admit, I skimmed the "Shoot the Messenger" chapter in which Harding goes into detail about the inner workings of British government. I'm still an American, after all, and hearing about what happens in other countries kind of makes me glaze over. I was astounded, however, at the grounding of the flight of the president of Bolivia when he was suspected of smuggling Snowden out of Russia (he didn't, btw). No wonder some other countries think of the U.S. as a big bully throwing its weight around.

So, my next action is to procure Greenwald's book about the contents of the Snowden leaks, and to maybe buy myself a typewriter and start visiting people in person more often rather than calling or e-mailing. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Nov 6, 2014 |
Radio and TV coverage of the Snowden leaks were spotty. This book helped to fill in the details, background, and what happened since Snowden showed up in Moscow. Snowden himself, and his girlfriend Lindsay Mills, are fleshed out a little more, and I learned why an American would go to British journalists, the Guardian, with the information he had purloined. It turns out the British, specifically their top-secret telecommunications monitoring arm, GCHQ, collaborated with the NSA: “We have the brains: they have the money. It’s a collaboration that’s worked very well.” [Sir David Omand, Former GCHQ Director] No shortage of egoism and despotism to go around, then.

Snowden was a right-wing libertarian in early writings on the web as a user he called ‘TheTrueHOOHA’. It was frankly unsettling for me to read/listen to his thinking as a teen, and see his progression to action. To use his words, he would like to be viewed as a patriot who believes in the right to privacy enshrined in the U.S. constitution. When I’d first learned of his leaks, I was startled. Listening to his first interview on TV, I was admiring. After reading this book, I am unsettled.

Luke Harding, a Guardian reporter, outlines the Snowden action for us with a minimum of sensationalism but with some incredulity at the scope of the revelations. And the news is pretty sensational. Harding gives a little background into Snowden’s early development, and his foray into working as a U.S. government contractor specializing in the protection of U.S. government communications. Snowden’s amazed and amazing reach into the lives of others via their private data transfers must vindicate the paranoid. While I have my doubts that any world leader or business executive thought their telecommunications were truly secret, Snowden’s revelations are startling in the scope of the data collection and in the holes in the system, e.g., a relatively low-level contractor had access to the material.

I should probably state from the get-go that I do not fear my government. I grew up in an age where inaction was much more to be expected than action; incompetence and bureaucratic bungling was much more common than overreach. I was not subject to the kind of totalitarian control experienced in Eastern Bloc countries, the Soviet Union, or China, but we have those examples to know it can happen. I believe the president and his minions who claim that the government is not listening to the communications of private citizens. They simply do not have the capacity, nor the interest, to do that. However, they now apparently have the means, and individuals within governments can have a deleterious effect upon the stated objectives of government. Snowden has shown us a place where an individual might have an outsized effect to his purported role.

Knowing just what I know now, if I had to make a judgment on Snowden’s fate, I might say he should go to court congruently with the leadership of the NSA and the GCHQ. I don’t think it would have been possible for him to “go up the chain of command” to protest this data collection. It is ridiculous to contemplate that anyone would have listened to him, given the reaction from our fearless leaders upon learning of his revelations. But I wish things had gone differently…for him and for us.

I listened to the Random House Audio version of this title, very ably read by Nicholas Guy Smith. I had a look at the paper copy as well, and found it concise enough that the momentum never lagged. Since Guardian reporters were the ones that initially broke this story, it is reasonable that they are the ones to write the details of what happened and the follow-up. I can’t imagine there is a person out there who wouldn’t be interested in this topic. Inform yourselves. This is going to be a political topic for some years to come.
( )
  bowedbookshelf | Oct 28, 2014 |
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Book description
Edward Snowden is one of the most extraordinary whistleblowers in history. A precocious computer specialist who rapidly rose through the ranks of the U.S. intelligence community, Snowden was only twenty-nine years old when he exposed the National Security Agency's mass surveillance program of citizens, which collects and stores people’s phone calls, emails, and contacts. Forced to flee the country to escape federal prosecutors, he remains a controversial figure in exile, having been called, by turns, a traitor, a hero, a dissident, a patriot.

Now, in these pages, award-winning Guardian correspondent Luke Harding takes us inside Snowden’s story, which has all the action and intrigue of a spy novel—yet is too astonishing not to be true. The Snowden Files is an essential investigation of the interplay between one man and the government, between national security and the right to privacy, and how the far-reaching capabilities of digital surveillance affect us all.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804173524, Paperback)

IT BEGAN WITH A TANTALIZING, ANONYMOUS EMAIL: “I AM A SENIOR MEMBER OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY.”
 
What followed was the most spectacular intelligence breach ever, brought about by one extraordinary man. Edward Snowden was a 29-year-old computer genius working for the National Security Agency when he shocked the world by exposing the near-universal mass surveillance programs of the United States government. His whistleblowing has shaken the leaders of nations worldwide, and generated a passionate public debate on the dangers of global monitoring and the threat to individual privacy.
 
In a tour de force of investigative journalism that reads like a spy novel, award-winning Guardian reporter Luke Harding tells Snowden’s astonishing story—from the day he left his glamorous girlfriend in Honolulu carrying a hard drive full of secrets, to the weeks of his secret-spilling in Hong Kong, to his battle for asylum and his exile in Moscow. For the first time, Harding brings together the many sources and strands of the story—touching on everything from concerns about domestic spying to the complicity of the tech sector—while also placing us in the room with Edward Snowden himself. The result is a gripping insider narrative—and a necessary and timely account of what is at stake for all of us in the new digital age.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:42 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"IT BEGAN WITH A TANTALIZING, ANONYMOUS EMAIL: "I AM A SENIOR MEMBER OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY." What followed was the most spectacular intelligence breach ever, brought about by one extraordinary man. Edward Snowden was a 29-year-old computer genius working for the National Security Agency when he shocked the world by exposing the near-universal mass surveillance programs of the United States government. His whistleblowing has shaken the leaders of nations worldwide, and generated a passionate public debate on the dangers of global monitoring and the threat to individual privacy. In a tour de force of investigative journalism that reads like a spy novel, award-winning Guardian reporter Luke Harding tells Snowden's astonishing story--from the day he left his glamorous girlfriend in Honolulu carrying a hard drive full of secrets, to the weeks of his secret-spilling in Hong Kong, to his battle for asylum and his exile in Moscow. For the first time, Harding brings together the many sources and strands of the story--touching on everything from concerns about domestic spying to the complicity of the tech sector--while also placing us in the room with Edward Snowden himself. The result is a gripping insider narrative--and a necessary and timely account of what is at stake for all of us in the new digital age"-- "The story of Edward Snowden and his shocking surveillance revelations"--… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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