How America Lost Its Secrets

How America Lost Its Secrets

Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft

Book - 2017
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"A groundbreaking, compelling investigation that convincingly challenges the popular image of Edward Snowden as hacker-turned-avenging angel, while revealing how vulnerable our national security systems have become. In the wake of the scandal that emerged after details of American government surveillance were made public by WikiLeaks in 2013, Edward Snowden, formerly an employee of an outside contractor at the NSA facility in Hawaii, became the controversial center of an international conversation about the limits of power and privacy. Had the U.S. government overstepped important boundaries in its anti-terrorism efforts? Was Snowden's theft of information legitimized by the nature of the secrets being kept from the American people? We learn in How America Lost Its Secrets that Snowden stole a great deal more than documents relating to domestic surveillance. He also stole secret documents from the NSA, the CIA, the Department of Defense, and the British cipher service revealing the sources and methods they employed in their monitoring of adversaries. He then transported these state secrets to an adversary country, Russia, without authorization. Which raises the question: Who is Edward Snowden--hero, traitor, whistle-blower, spy? Edward Jay Epstein brings a lifetime of journalistic and investigative acumen to bear on this question and more. Retracing Snowden's steps from disgruntled tech worker to international notoriety, he seeks to understand both how we lost our secrets and the man who took them. Along the way, we discover Snowden's sometimes troubling pseudonymous writing on the Internet, as well as aspects of his private and public life previously elided. We see that by outsourcing parts of our own security apparatus to private companies in order to save money, the government has made classified information far more vulnerable to theft and misuse. Snowden, working for one of these private companies, ultimately sought employment precisely where he could most easily gain access to the most sensitive classified information. He claims to have acted to serve his country, but in his new home, Moscow, he is treated as a prized intelligence asset in the new Cold War. With unerring insight, meticulous reporting, and the pacing of a thriller writer, Epstein follows the Snowden trail across the globe, unearthing revelations that shed a whole new light on one of the most controversial and fascinating events of the new millennium."--Dust jacket
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2017
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780451494566
0451494563
9780451494573
Branch Call Number: 327.1273 Epstein 2017
Characteristics: x, 350 pages, 12 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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2
22950004968244
Aug 07, 2017

Obviously well researched book. If you've seen the fantasy movie Snowden or the CitizenFour self-promotion doc clear your brain out for something closer to the truth.

One of the most interesting pieces of info in the book was that Snowden quit high school and never returned; never finishing high school, or any college or university. You don't get into the CIA with that resume. Most likely his grandfather who was an admiral pulled strings to get him a low level job in IT.

In the Snowden movie they have him being courted on the golf course by high level managers. No way this would have happened. Likewise that the CIA had him involved in real espionage. Snowden never had any high level position, just low level system admin positions.

He stole far more military secrets than whistle-blower revelations. There is pretty clear evidence these secrets have been handled over to the Russians and the Chinese. The author investigates at what point did Snowden become a Russian asset. Was he working with another Russian agent embedded in the NSA ? etc.

l
LYNN WALSH
Jul 25, 2017

This book should be a must-read for anyone who thinks Edward Snowden is an angelic hero -- and I was one of them. There's no doubt that Snowden, in his public role as whistle-blower, exposed to the American public the potential danger of surveillance and data-collection technology regarding personal privacy, and the security dangers in outsourcing computer servicing to private contractors.
But the vast majority of the more than 1 million files Snowden took from the NSA had nothing to do with this whistle-blower activity relating to domestic surveillance. Snowden compromised more U.S. intelligence capability than any spy in U.S. history, and specifically determining how potentially both China and Russia benefited from this information is unknowable.
Snowden's actions also had an uglier side: they contributed to the rampant growth of the public's distrust of the institutions of government. In this culture of distrust, any claim that any of the secrets that Snowden disclosed could have caused any harm is preemptively dismissed as government propaganda.
At the very least the details provided by the author regarding actions taken by Snowden both before and after June 2013 compel the reader to question their understanding of what really happened and why. Great reading.

c
cello9flute
Apr 25, 2017

A carefully researched book which makes a very good case that Snowden, for unknown reasons, deliberately revealed top secret sources and methods by which intelligence agencies, specifically NSA, monitor hostile states and entities. It's hard not to draw the conclusion that his revelations helped make all of us less safe. He's no hero! Very little of what he revealed had to do with strictly domestic surveillance of American citizens.

l
LucasHill
Apr 22, 2017

This reports not only how Snowden achieved his famed theft (with more than a few suppositions by the author), but precisely why it was so disastrous, and how it reveals American national security flaws, technological and otherwise. This book asserts that, with a certain level of knowledge, which most people do not have, one must come to the conclusions that 1) pro-Snowden individuals are naive; and 2) Snowden must not have worked alone. This is a chilling and fascinating read.

p
pvdl
Apr 07, 2017

A dismal and poorly-researched book. It starts by repeating the false and discredited claim that there were "11 missing days" in May 2013, after Snowden left the US, and before he checked into the Mira hotel in Hong Kong. The author, Epstein, spends the whole prologue worrying about this trivial detail.

Glenn Greenwald demolishes the claims (fake news) of "11 missing days". Snowden originally checked into the hotel Mira on May 21 2013. The reservation was originally for 10 nights, checking out on May 30. The hotel records confirm he arrived and checked-in on May 21, staying continually for the full reservation. Once that reservation ended, he extended it for one more day, then made another 10-day reservation through booking.com with a check-out date of June 10, and stayed continually through then, when he checked out.

Idiots like Epstein have spread the lie about "11 missing days", implying Snowden used the time to for something nefarious, like a side trip to Moscow or Beijing. It's a false accusation. Here's Glenn's takedown of Epstein's lie.
https://theintercept.com/2017/03/21/newly-obtained-documents-prove-key-claim-of-snowdens-accusers-is-a-fraud/

I don't recommend this book at all. It's written from a tendentious perspective. Shunning integrity, the author serves up a dark brew that mixes a pinch of truth with a truck load of nonsense. If this book is your only source, you will come away misguided. Shun it.

2
21288004246712
Mar 24, 2017

Putin was the big winner from this fiasco

b
Brendablau
Jan 23, 2017

Snowden was the first that came to light, but now with Donald Trump and "fake news" we are learning more about the inner workings of government than most of us care to know.

s
StarGladiator
Dec 15, 2016

Epstein's earlier work, a pretty good book on Hollywood economics, but a really lousy one on the Warren Commission, should give much pause to the reader. I have yet to read this, but the very fact that IPS/IDS programming for government are routinely offshored, makes the entire book irrelevant. Right now the Fake News [CNN, CBS, NPR, PBS, et cetera] are broadcasting that the WikiLeaked emails were hacked by Russia, even though zero evidence has been presented, and there is much to suggest they were provided by an HRC insider to WikiLeaks, so no hacking involved! I'm afraid Epstein's book sounds along the same lines as the Fake News. As long as the government and Corporate America offshore technology, jobs and investment, this entire area of discourse is a non-starter!

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