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No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

Chapter 1: Contact

This chapter speaks mostly of how the author has come to work with Edward Snowden as a journalist to whom he provides the leaked information on the NSA surveillance. In this book, Greenwald presents Edward Snowden as a very knowledgeable whistleblower, whose main concern is to reveal the secrets of the government. It occurs especially in such a way they are using the war on terror as a justification for numerous unconstitutional undertakings within the NSA as well as in other rogue agencies within the US government. This chapter has a lot of bias in terms of Edward Snowden’s case.


First, it must be noted that at the beginning of the book, the author seeks to justify his involvement in the case. He presents himself as one of few journalists with the background and courage to write about the government’s misdemeanors in light of the Constitution. He introduces himself as the other whistleblower in shining armor, thus, insinuating his credibility as a source of genuine information on the NSA’s activities. He is seen as a judge who decides on the constitutionality of a surveillance exercise. He validates this position by stating his background in law (Greenwald 26).

The need for all these validations has set the author up for miscommunication as perceived in this case. The writer feels that he is in a need of the reason other than being a journalist with a popular political blog for the whistleblower to contact him. It raises questions about his prior involvement with Edward Snowden. There seems to be much emphasis on the author’s part about his reluctance in getting involved and how he almost has blown Snowden off countless times.

In some way, he seems to be convincing the audience about something that he feels they need to believe in. In this case, it may be that he is only a reporter in this story and that his involvement is limited and inspired by the public interest. The extent to which it is true remains anyone’s guess. His anti-surveillance mindset prior to Edward Snowden’s fiasco further elevates his bias in the story. He already believes what he wants, and Edward Snowden only serves to justify his extremist viewpoint.

Chapter 2: Ten Days in Hong Kong

This chapter is about the first meeting and introduction of Edward Snowden to Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong. Glenn is finally convinced to travel to China where he is scheduled to meet Snowden. He learns who he really is. Thus, he gets to know what he has to offer in terms of the NSA surveillance story. In this chapter, the author focuses on introducing Edward Snowden and his activities within the CIA and later the NSA to readers. With some stories on their meeting in Hong Kong and on how they had to jump through many hoops to get to the whistleblower, he sets a stage for the audience. It is done to imagine the dangers that they were going through in order to gather this information.

After all explanations about encrypting messages and allowing safe communication through emailing, one would wonder if the following thing. They would think of the reason why these journalists had to endanger their lives by going to Hong Kong where they were followed by both Chinese and American intelligence units. This chapter presents a series of pointless narratives that only serve to heighten the suspense in the book. Rather than journalism, it portrays some elements of fiction with an inclination towards thrillers and conspiratorial works.

The second chapter in this book raises a number of questions. First, the reason why the meeting had to take place in Hong Kong with Snowden is being discussed. It can be answered from a variety of perspectives. The tension between China and the US is still evident. There is a very clear possibility that the initial country is brewing for war with the US. With his access to national secrets, Snowden could be an asset to China in this war. It explains the fact why he was able to stay in a hotel in Hong Kong while he was not feeling safe in the US.

Chapter 3: Collect It All

This chapter involves the process of receiving, deciphering and publishing the information. It concerns the data that Snowden had provided over to journalists. It must be noted that in his interview, he states the following fact. He handed over the information to journalists having agreed that they would not publish any information that could harm anyone, in particular. It must be noted, however, that the journalist here simply goes on to mention the content of various documents. This information is considered harmful to the public.

This chapter shows some elements of recklessness mentioning secrets that should remain hidden. They endanger several millions of people in various parts of the world. The author also dedicates this chapter to play with the readers’ imagination on the scope and implications of the NSA revelations. These ones were provided to him by Snowden (Greenwald 103).

I believe that in this chapter the author continues to exaggerate the mistakes of the government with the NSA surveillance issue. He continues to shed light on the pieces of the surveillance exercise being likely to spark mass disapproval. However, he conveniently leaves out the positive aspects of the program. By painting the NSA’s portrait in total darkness and dictatorship above the law, he manages to sell the government short in its efforts. It is done to curb terrorism and achieve human security. The author narrates how he studied and interpreted thousands of NSA documents evidenced by their clandestine operations. It is executed with respect to spying on people using their phones and laptops among other things. With each accusation in this chapter, he seems to be looking for negative implications while ignoring the obvious positive outcomes.

Chapter 4: The Harm of Surveillance

This chapter is dedicated to justifying the author’s anti-surveillance mentality. He starts by discrediting the supporters of surveillance and even calls them anti-privacy advocates. At this point, it can be appreciated that the author’s inclination against surveillance as a method of intelligence gathering is quite clear. The possibility of objective coverage of Snowden’s case is clearly unfathomable. The author stated his side in the matter. Throughout the chapter, he demonizes the surveillance systems, forgetting that they were used during World War II and II.

It was done to save the lives of many soldiers by avoiding imminent attacks on the US bases and catching the adversaries off guard in their various outposts. The concept of surveillance in intelligence gathering is not a ploy for dictatorship. One would think while reading this book. It is a rather tried and true method of keeping enemies at bay by staying informed of their actions and intentions once the national security is concerned.

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This chapter elicits the question of the true impact of surveillance on an American citizen. Privacy may be very important to an individual. However, when it affects national security then one should discuss what the real priority is. There may be a suspicious individual whose privacy is violated by the surveillance. It may be related to many civilians at risk if the government ignores the suspect and respects their Constitutional right to privacy. The dilemma, in this case, is not really on whether to spy on Americans or not. It must be noted that most of the terrorist attacks on American soil are planned and even executed by or with the help of people being already within the US. People like Glenn Greenwald, for example, could have been stopped from leaking documents. These ones caused tension between other countries and created a possibility of war if the communication was caught and they were stopped in time.

Chapter 5: The Fourth Estate

That is why where the author chastises the political media for not supporting his cause in the publication of NSA documents. It must be noted that the actions of the journalist were causing so many problems. Therefore, many people were damaged. It happened even despite the insertions by Edward Snowden. He was not intending to cause any harm but let the world know what the US government was capable of doing. Glenn Greenwald at this point goes on to complain about the role of the political media as the fourth estate. He even questions the media’s ability to provide checks and balances to the government within a democratic setting.

It can be appreciated here even contrary to Greenwald’s assertions in this chapter. The media is always a great channel for checks and balances in the government. The challenge, however, is that when the public interest is involved, not everyone believes in the following fact. Endangering national security amounts to keeping the government in check. The media was mostly against these publications because of the gravity not only to the US government but generally to the international community (Greenwald 219).

The definition of a terrorist act is such, in which one intentionally spreads fear amongst the masses. In essence, Glenn Greenwald is a perpetrator of such activity. He may spend most of the book writing about Snowden’s role in the revelation. However, the latter manages to dodge the blame by stating the following fact. He agreed not to have journalists releasing documents that could put people in danger. Thus, by revealing these data, Greenwald takes full responsibility for ensuring outcomes.

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