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An intense examination of whistleblower Edward Snowden that successfully wades through both partisan rhetoric and ideological constraints.

Snowden, the former National Security Agency computer specialist who released classified documents to the media in 2013, presently lives a kind of self-imposed exile in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Should he come home to face modern American justice? Did his actions hurt the United States, or has he helped to rescue the nation from further slippage into an increasingly undemocratic morass? Fidler (Law/Indiana Univ.; co-author: Responding to the National Security Letters: A Practical Guide for Legal Counsel, 2010, etc.) assembles a comprehensive collection of well-informed essays that intellectually probe Snowden’s actions from a variety of important angles. The questions being asked should be uncomfortable for both those who support Snowden and those who vilify him. For instance, William E. Scheuerman wonders if Snowden’s efforts to escape incarceration in America undermine the argument that his actions are akin to other heroes who challenged corruption and injustice, like Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After all, Scheuerman writes, “King penned a ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’ not ‘Letter on the Run from a Birmingham Jail.’ ” None of the answers are easy or pat, but there are definitive conclusions to be made. With that as a setup, the collection includes many of the explosive leaked documents themselves—e.g., the one revealing telephone company data mining. The documents are followed with responses from various government officials who then take their crack at deconstructing Snowden’s actions and their impact. The United States has had some 40 years to contemplate an earlier whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, and his decision to leak the Pentagon Papers. Fidler’s work is significant because, while events are still playing out, it is actively helping to make sense of this pressing particular American crisis a lot more quickly.

An indispensable resource for understanding the Snowden leaks.

Pub Date: April 24th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-253-01737-6
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2015


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