The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man

Daniel Soar writes:

What matters more: the leaker, or the leak? Any one of the following, you’d think, might have been the news story of the year, or the decade: the revelation that America’s biggest spy agency, the NSA, has information on every phone call made in the continental United States as well as abroad; that it claims to have direct access to the servers of Google, Yahoo, Facebook and all the other major web companies; that GCHQ, the NSA’s British equivalent, is siphoning off the entire internet and storing some of it for thirty days; that online encryption has been subverted and nothing is safe from government spies. The drift of the stories – which were at their peak last summer, when the Guardian and others first got their hands on Edward Snowden’s documents – was that we’re all being watched all the time. Anything we do online, and any phone call we make, is potentially being analysed by the NSA and its friends. But, as Luke Harding discloses in his book on the Snowden affair, the most viewed story in the Guardian’s history wasn’t any of this: it wasn’t a piece of news at all. It was the 12-minute video, made by Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, in which Snowden explained who he was and why he’d decided to reveal what he had.

(LRB 20 February 2014)

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