Charlie Savage is a Washington Correspondent for The New York Times. His latest book is Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post–9/11 Presidency.
 (February 2017)

Follow Charlie Savage on Twitter: @charlie_savage.

IN THE REVIEW

Was Snowden a Russian Agent?

How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft

by Edward Jay Epstein

Snowden

a film directed by Oliver Stone
For Edward Jay Epstein’s book How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft to have value—for it to be worth reading, not just an object intelligence hard-liners might display on their shelves as a sign of their contempt for Snowden—the facts he selects to anchor and discipline his scenario-building cannot be flimsy or cherry-picked to fit his preexisting beliefs. This is important because he clearly decided early that everything pointed in the direction of the Snowden saga being a foreign espionage plot. It is unfortunate that Epstein builds his imagined scenarios upon allegations that may not be real facts.

General Hayden’s Offensive

Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

by Michael V. Hayden
The title of Michael Hayden’s memoir, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror, refers to one of his favorite metaphors: that in a dangerous world, intelligence agencies should aggressively play right up to the legal line dividing fair territory from foul—getting chalk dust on their cleats. He does not reflect on whether that axiom remains principled when the president hires referees who let him disregard the rulebook and redraw the foul lines wherever he wants.