In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the 29-year-old NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency's widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. As the arguments rage on and the government considers various proposals for reform, it is clear that we have yet to see the full impact of Snowden's disclosures.
Now for the first time, Greenwald fits all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity ten-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA's unprecedented abuse of power with never-before-seen documents entrusted to him by Snowden himself.
Going beyond NSA specifics, Greenwald also takes on the establishment media, excoriating their habitual avoidance of adversarial reporting on the government and their failure to serve the interests of the people. Finally, he asks what it means both for individuals and for a nation's political health when a government pries so invasively into the private lives of its citizens—and considers what safeguards and forms of oversight are necessary to protect democracy in the digital age. Coming at a landmark moment in American history, No Place to Hide is a fearless, incisive, and essential contribution to our understanding of the U.S. surveillance state.
From the nation's beginnings, the law was to be the great equalizer in American life, the guarantor of a common set of rules for all. But over the past four decades, the principle of equality before the law has been effectively abolished. Instead, a two-tiered system of justice ensures that the country's political and financial class is virtually immune from prosecution, licensed to act without restraint, while the politically powerless are imprisoned with greater ease and in greater numbers than in any other country in the world.
Starting with Watergate, continuing on through the Iran-Contra scandal, and culminating with Obama's shielding of Bush-era officials from prosecution, Glenn Greenwald lays bare the mechanisms that have come to shield the elite from accountability. He shows how the media, both political parties, and the courts have abetted a process that has produced torture, war crimes, domestic spying, and financial fraud.
Cogent, sharp, and urgent, this is a no-holds-barred indictment of a profoundly un-American system that sanctions immunity at the top and mercilessness for everyone else.
In a risk-filled world, democracies are increasingly turning to large-scale state surveillance, at home and abroad, to fight complex and unconventional threats — but is it justified? For some, the threats more than justify the current surveillance system, and the laws and institutions of democracies are more than capable of balancing the needs of individual privacy with collective security. But for others, we are in peril of sacrificing to a vast and unaccountable state surveillance apparatus the civil liberties that guarantee citizens’ basic freedoms and our democratic way of life.
In this edition of the Munk Debates, former head of the CIA and NSA Michael Hayden and civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz square off against journalist Glenn Greenwald and reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian to debate the legitimacy of state surveillance. With issues of Internet privacy increasingly gaining prominence, the Munk Debate on the Surveillance State asks: Should government be able to monitor our activities in order to keep us safe?