Cross-posted from Antiwar
Glenn Greenwald's new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, is many things: an account of his relationship with Snowden, an indictment of political leaders who have used the pretext of "terrorism" to mask their unlimited power-lust, a technical analysis (complete with illustrations culled from the National Security Agency's own secret archives) of America's emerging police state. Most significant and enjoyable for me, however, it is a searing indictment of what "mainstream" journalists have become -- servitors of a corrupt political class blinded by their own arrogance.
It opens with an account of how the biggest story of the decade fell into Greenwald's lap -- and almost fell out. Many of Greenwald's readers will be familiar with its genesis: an anonymous email sent to him by someone calling himself "Cincinnatus" promising a big story but insisting Greenwald install cumbersome and difficult-to-learn encryption programs on his computer before communication could begin. Greenwald did not reply to the first missive, but did reply to the second: yes, he should have encryption but just hadn't gotten around to it, and, not being a tech type, he would have to find someone to help him.
Yet he continued to put it off. Ten weeks later, as he was landing in New York from Rio de Janeiro, where he presently lives, he received an email from Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker, whose harassment by US authorities he had written about for Salon. Poitras's films -- My Country, My Country, filmed inside the Sunni Triangle in Iraq, and The Oath, filmed in Yemen -- had angered the US government to such an extent that they continually harassed her whenever she reentered the United States. Greenwald's article had exposed this brazen attempt at intimidation -- and put a stop to it, at least temporarily. So he took seriously the email from her saying they had to meet on an important matter.