This is not a book about dentistry, business, rugby or rock music. Nor is it a work of fiction although some of the press and a great number of politicians would you have you believe that it is. It’s an unusual one for me to mention here but why not share what could prove to be revelations that have profound implications for the way that we live our lives, the way our governments behave and how we look upon the use of the day to day information we take for granted?
The story of Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US surveillance state has been told and re-told in public, yet I feel its full ramifications are not understood. The fact that the US government records all telephone conversations, emails, Skype conversations and internet activity not only of its own citizens but also of anyone whose email traffic passes through the USA (ie the rest of us) would be far fetched if it were not true.
My brother introduced this to me and I watched Laura Poitras’ Oscar winning film CitizenFour with him. As he said at the time, “it’s bloody terrifying”. He’s right.
What staggers me is not the high handed way the NSA act – we should be used to the repeated paranoia of the US from J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon and George W Bush but the fact that the UK government condones, encourages and joins in through the “Doughnut in Benhall” or GCHQ as those outside Cheltenham know it. I always presumed that my patients who worked at GCHQ were secretive because they knew things about the Russians or the Chinese but now I wonder if it’s because they had information about me.
The tale unfolds like a good thriller starting with a meeting with a mystery man in Hong Kong, then there is subterfuge, tension about publication and a race against time to get the scoop. The only thing to remember is that it’s true.
“it’s bloody terrifying”. Quite.