Book Review: The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding
At times this book The Snowden Files which details the adventures of Edward Snowden, and the Guardian reporters who burst his story onto world stage, reads like a novel. For this reason alone, this book is a must read for any American, Britain, German or global citizen of whatever locale. Too many of us have been overwhelmed by the post-9-11 history that has been enfolding, destroying and changing our biosphere and landscapes.
This Luke Harding book will walk you back through how we have come to allow Big Brother to bloom everywhere.
Harding begins with an email to Glenn Greenwald from Snowden. The email began with "I am a senior member of the intelligence community". Harding continues: "What followed was the most spectacular intelligence breach ever, brought about by one man, Edward Snowden."
In writing this book , Harding states, "This is the inside story of Snowden's deeds and the journalists who faced down pressure from the US and UK governments to break a remarkable scoop." This scoop from The Guardian staff has proven to be the most important release of inside information on how our governments have been spying on its citizens since the Nixon Administration.
How Harding treats this material on Snowden and the Guardian's main actors is by taking a many-layered look at the activities and words of these main actors from dozens of different perspectives--from the governments involved, from experts in espionage, and from the fields of journalism; from the perspective of their co-workers, from the citizenry (and from terrorists) in various lands; and from the perspective of media actors in other papers, and from petty politicians to strong advocates for liberty and for freedoms.
Critique of the lack of rights and oversight in the United Kingdom:
More importantly, part of the sub-foci of Hardings tale concerns the difference between the USA--with its 1st, 4th and 5th amendments of the U.S. Constitution (which protect speech, journalism and even average citizens from unwarrented seizures and searches)-- and the UK. These amendments for civil rights in the US Constitution are so ingrained in its social fabric--that when Snowden decided to release his documents to the media, he based his arguments for doing so on the USA Constitution
In contrast, Britain as a political landscape has been historically failing. Harding laments this oversight of a constitution in the UK; in his book he makes it clear that in many ways, due to the lack of such constitutional guarantees, Britains as a whole are often totally under appreciating of rights for media and freedom of expression. Britains also put up with worse oversight of their own secret services than do Americans.
Sir Jeremy Heywood, perhaps the most powerful non-elected government official in the UK, was sent by the UK Prime Minister and Cabinet to put the screws down on The Guardian in London in the aftermath of the first three Snowden stories. He told the editor's point blank, "You've had your fun." Within a few weeks the secret services of the UK were overseeing the luddite-like hammering and desturcion of all of Snowden related hard drives in the Guardian's Office in London.
In contrast, in America the federal government made no attempt to destroy the Snowden files or hard drives at either the US-Guardian Office or at The New York Times.
Harding also looks at Germany's position on media and freedom of expression. Germans are presented as even more supportive of press freedoms and other rights than Americans have been in recent decades. The French seem to have much less oversight than their German partners in the EU. (In contrast, in Russia--the country where Snowden has found himself in exile--has perhaps more Stasi-like controls of media and civil liberties, i.e. less freedom of speech, etc.)
The inside story and details of the Snowden revelations must be more public and must be analyzed as part of school curricula in America, Britain, Germany and other countries, if the secret services' powers are to be reigned in.