Permanent Record

Permanent Record

Book - 2019
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In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it. Spanning the bucolic Beltway suburbs of his childhood and the clandestine CIA and NSA postings of his adulthood, this is the extraordinary account of a bright young man who grew up online -- a man who became a spy, a whistleblower, and, in exile, the Internet's conscience. Written with wit, grace, passion, and an unflinching candor, Permanent Record is a crucial memoir of our digital age and destined to be a classic.
Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, 2019.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781250237231
1250237238
Characteristics: x, 339 pages ;,25 cm

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BEFORE, the all-surveillance reality of us was called ECHELON. somehow this wondrous machine- (?) failed to stop 9/11 and all the other in- this -nation- terrorist attacks. in traditional investigations, the guiding trail is: qui bono. who benefited? "Internationally,, the disclosures helped to revive debates about surveillance in places with long histories of abuses. The countries whose citezenries were most opposed to American mass surveillance were those whose governments had most cooperated with it, from the Five Eyes nations (especially the UK, whose GCHQ remains the NSA's primary partner) to nations of the European Union. Germany, which has done much to reckon with its Nazi and Communist past, provides the primary example of this disjunction. NSA had targeted Angela Merkel's smart phone........."

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aplbrandon
Jan 10, 2020

Everybody surfs porn. Or has at some time. Also everyone keeps family pics and videos. That's according to Snowden in this book. It's mentioned a couple of times. Other than the fact that we are all constantly, blissfully and almost gleefully being surveilled in every possible way and format and by every device, Snowden reminds us that there was a pre-internet world. And there was a pre-9/11 world too. The internet sort of helped to make Edward Snowden.
And the Sept 11 attacks sort of helped give us the gift of mass surveillance. He tells us that the surveillance hoovering is ubiquitous and that such hoovered data is intended to remain on servers forever. He argues that this is unconstitutional and that is his motivation for his leak and current situation. It is a personal book. It is about growing up. I read it in three days. Couldn't put it down.

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miketany
Jan 04, 2020

I really enjoyed reading the book because of how awesome Edward’s story was to tell. It was really interesting learning about how the CIA and NSA operate and how he was able to take advantage of some shortcomings to steal information right underneath their noses. I think that reading a book written from his perspective of things really increased the depth and effectiveness of the story. I really enjoyed how he told the story from a first person perspective, which gave you insight on how felt and what he was experiencing from his point of view. I think that the amount of details he gives you in this book is just indicating how deep his knowledge of how the CIA and NSA operate goes. I really liked how Edward talked about the moral side of things that he was doing and was trying to do the best thing for both morality and his country. He tried to think unbiasedly about topics and considered ways of doing things apart from typical procedures. He also reveals the weaknesses of our spy networks and analyses how and why they are weak. He later elaborates on these weaknesses by showing how took advantage of these shortcomings to steal information from the government and leak these documents to the media.

I rated this book a 10/10 because of how well it was written and how intriguing it was. I think that this book is a must read for people interested in politics and the government. The book dives deep into the inner workings of the US government and I think that is a very important topic to learn about for the average citizen living in the united states.

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MichelleinBallard
Dec 27, 2019

It is dismaying but not surprising that this important, interesting, and well-written book has seemingly been largely ignored by the chattering classes—the stenographers of power. In fact, the only NPR coverage I′ve heard about it was a short report on the US govt′s court battle to deny the publisher and Edward Snowden any profits from *Permanent Record*.

Curiously, after all he′s been through Snowden is still, apparently, little more than an ardent Constitutionalist as distinguished from more radical critics of statism and the tyranny upon which the nation-state is founded and requires for its very existence. Thus, Snowden is nostalgic for ″nobler ages″ when ″nonelected and non-appointed″ US govt. officials were referred to as ″federal civil servants or the public sector″ (pp. 105-6). As Snowden correctly notes: ″These civil servants … ultimately work for the government itself″ (p. 106). They do not, as he does NOT note, work for the people.

Snowden prefers the more polite terms for the federal bureacracy to the ″epithets″ of ″deep state or shadow government″. This despite the fact that these folks include the very government employees (and their private contractor adjuncts) who build, maintain, and, with abysmally rare exceptions, conceal the machinery of mass surveillance. Snowden is still seemingly protecting that machinery. For instance, he tells us he is concealing the methods he used to copy and encrypt the intel secrets with which he absconded. This is in order, as he cryptically says, to ensure: ″that the NSA will still be standing tomorrow.″ (p. 258)

Elsewhere, Snowden observes that he ″ended his time in Intelligence convinced that my country′s operating system—its government—had decided that it functioned best when broken.″ (p. 110). Hopefully, one day Snowden will rethink his mistaken OS analogy and whether government is not actually ″broken″ but performing more or less as designed.

Snowden also rightly complains about how ″contracting functions as governmentally assisted corruption … transferring public money to the private purse.″ (p. 113) Yet, he doesn′t interrogate just how that ″public money″ became public.

Don′t overinterpret my comments above. Snowden is a bona fide hero and we could use more people like him. *Permanent Record* is an easy read that offers key insights into the mind of this whistleblower and the circumstances and principles that compelled him, at considerable risk, to take a place on the world stage.

Check the ″Quotes″ tab for some outtakes from the book.

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gprusakowski
Dec 21, 2019

I found him frank and honest in this book but did not learn any new behind the scene details. I think he wrote this book to once again warn the world that nothing has really changed because we are too complacent in our approach to our own security and not demanding enough of our governments. Even though the US court has ruled against him receiving any royalties, a not unexpected event, he is not surprised or concerned about it all. I find him honest and concerned about our security when he talks about the risk we are all at when it comes to surveillance by security agencies around the world.

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joshhw
Dec 02, 2019

An engaging story that manages to mix biographical details with technologies advancements throughout Snowden’s life.

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broo
Nov 20, 2019

Impressive biography! That this young man could sacrifice everything to expose the dirty secrets of the NSA etc. makes him a saint, by my reckoning!

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ktnvd
Nov 09, 2019

Excellent read, so well written and captured my attention totally. He is a hero

Quotes

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MichelleinBallard
Dec 27, 2019

"Nearly three thousand people died on 9/11. Imagine everyone you love, everyone you know, even everyone with a familiar name or just a familiar face—and imagine they're gone. Imagine the empty houses. Imagine the empty school, the empty classrooms. All those people you lived among, and who together formed the fabric of your days, just not there anymore. The events of 9/11 left holes. Holes in families, holes in communities. Holes in the ground.

"Now, consider this: over one million people have been killed in the course of America's response.

"The two decades since 9/11 have been a litany of American destruction by way of American self-destruction, with the promulgation of secret policies, secret laws, secret courts, and secret wars, whose traumatizing impact—whose very existence—the US Government has repeatedly classified, denied, disclaimed, and distorted." [pp. 77-78]

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MichelleinBallard
Dec 27, 2019

Comments on the occasion of the announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011:

"The previous ten years had been a cavalcade of American-made tragedy: the forever war in Afghanistan, catastrophic regime change in Iraq, indefinite detentions at Guantánamo Bay, extraordinary renditions, torture, targeted killings of civilians—even of American civilians—via drone strikes. Domestically, there was the Homeland Securitization of everything, which assigned a threat rating to every waking day (Red-Severe, Orange-High, Yellow-Elevated), and, from the Patriot Act on, the steady erosion of civil liberties, the very liberties we were allegedly fighting to protect. The cumulative damage—the malfeasance in aggregate—was staggering to contemplate and felt entirely irreversible, and yet we were still honking our horns and flashing our lights in jubilation." [p. 204]

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MichelleinBallard
Dec 27, 2019

"... saying that you don't need or want privacy because you have nothing to hide is to assume that no one should have, or could have, to hide anything—including their immigration status, unemployment history, financial history, and health records. You're assuming that no one, including yourself, might object to revealing to anyone information about their religious beliefs, political affiliations, and sexual activities, as casually as some choose to reveal their movie and music tastes and reading preferences.

"Ultimately, saying that you don't care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different from saying you don't care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. Or that you don't care about freedom of the press because you don't like to read. Or that you don't care about freedom of religion because you don't believe in God. Or that you don't care about the freedom to peaceably assemble because you're a lazy, antisocial agoraphobe." [p. 208]

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