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Greenwald’s thriller-like morality tale

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Glenn Greenwald has just published “No Place to Hide.” The book, which reads like a thriller, is Greenwald’s story of his nonstop two weeks of work in May and June 2013 in Hong Kong with former CIA agent and NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden. Greenwald coordinated the public release of the 1.7 million pages of NSA documents that Snowden took with him in order to prove definitively that the federal government is spying on all of us all the time.

“No Place to Hide” not only tells of Snowden’s initially frustrating and anonymous efforts to reach out to Greenwald and others, and of the NSA’s insatiable appetite to learn everything about everyone; it is also a morality tale about the personal courage required to expose government wrongdoing and risk lives, liberties and properties in doing so.

In Hong Kong, Snowden told journalists that the local CIA station employed agents trained to kill. Then The Guardian’s lawyers informed Greenwald that the Bush and Obama administrations had not hesitated to use the Espionage Act of 1917 — a World War I-era relic employed to suppress and punish free speech — to attempt to lock up journalists, even when they revealed the truth.

At this point in reading the book on Memorial Day, I noticed my pulse was racing, though I obviously knew the outcome.

The road to that outcome began about a year ago when Greenwald received emails from an anonymous, persistent and intriguing source. The source so enticed Greenwald and his editors at The Guardian that, sight unseen, they traveled to Hong Kong to see whether the source possessed the documentary evidence he claimed to have of the American government’s most massive and sophisticated spying on innocents in our history. He did.

The government has argued that when it engages in all this spying, it is looking for a needle in a haystack. It claims it can keep us safe only if it knows all and sees all. Yet such an argument cannot be made with intellectual honesty by anyone sworn to uphold the Constitution.

In response to all this indiscriminate spying, the Senate has done nothing yet. The House recently passed legislation called the USA Freedom Act. This deceptively titled nonsense so muddies the legal waters with ambiguous language that if enacted into law, it actually would strengthen the NSA’s ability to spy on all of us all the time. Is it any surprise that President Obama and the NSA leadership support these so-called reforms?

The duty of government is to keep us free and to keep our freedoms safe. If it fails to protect freedom, it should be replaced. If it continues to spy on all of us all the time, then Greenwald’s title — taken from a pre-Internet warning issued by the late Sen. Frank Church — will have come to pass. We will have no place to hide and no freedoms left to exercise without the government’s approval.

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel.

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