Review of No Place to Hide

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  • Innovative
  • Eye Opening
  • Background


When Edward Snowden decided to share the cache of classified material detailing America’s massive secret data collection and surveillance operations that he’d stolen from the US National Security Agency (NSA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and private security company Booz Allen Hamilton, he reached out to investigative journalist and surveillance expert Glenn Greenwald. Also the author of With Liberty for Some and A Tragic Legacy, Greenwald won numerous prestigious rewards for breaking Snowden’s story. His accolades for his follow-up reporting on the contents of Snowden’s leaks and on the US political and legal response to them included the Pulitzer Prize (co-winner) and the 2013 George Polk Award for security reporting. This book details his interactions with Snowden, the press and the government. Because of Greenwald’s reputation as an excellent investigative journalist, Snowden regarded him as trustworthy and unlikely to allow the US security apparatus or what he viewed as the usual collusion between major US newspapers and the US government to intimidate him. Greenwald’s narrative of his first contact with Snowden, their correspondence and their eventual meeting is a riveting read. His breakdown of the most widespread, dangerous practices of the NSA and related eavesdropping agencies is, by and large, almost as fascinating. The book is gripping to this point. However, its final portion, featuring Greenwald’s strong opinions about today’s surveillance culture and the complicit role that he feels most media outlets play, gets tiresome. Greenwald seems a lesser writer when describing his views rather than reporting facts. At the same time, considering that he has endured being watched, harassed and threatened with legal action and the forced end of his career, he may have the right to get a little strident. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends Greenwald’s best-selling inside look at Edward Snowden and US surveillance policies to every US citizen and anyone concerned about privacy.

About the Author

Former constitutional attorney Glenn Greenwald also wrote With Liberty for Some and A Tragic Legacy. A co-winner of the Pulitzer Prize, he won the 2013 George Polk Award for Security Reporting and numerous other honors. He is a columnist for The Guardian (London).



Greenwald reports that Snowden first reached out to him in December of 2012 under the pseudonym Cincinnatus, the name of a Roman farmer appointed emperor during wartime. He rejected power after the war to return to farming. Snowden wanted Greenwald to start using an encryption program before any further communication. Snowden cited the example of disgraced general David Petraeus, who had been undone by emails detailing an illicit affair. If Petraeus had encrypted his emails, Snowden told Greenwald, no one ever would have discovered his affair.

Then Greenwald heard from filmmaker Laura Poitras, a documentarian whose films bravely address civil liberty and political oppression. Greenwald had written in Salon about the way US government officials had harassed, detained and questioned her. Poitras convinced him that Snowden was not a hoaxer and had something of value to impart. Shortly after, a “tech person” sent Greenwald two thumb drives from Snowden, still anonymously. US customs held that package for more than a week, raising Greenwald’s suspicions of government eavesdropping and interference.The package contained instructions on encrypting email and creating passwords. Snowden invited Greenwald to meet him in Hong Kong.

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