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NYT Book Reviewer Wonders If Glenn Greenwald Should Be Locked Up

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AP Photo / Britta Pedersen

But Michael Kinsley went there on Thursday when he reviewed journalist Glenn Greenwald's book about the National Security Agency spying revelations, "No Place To Hide."

Writing for the New York Times, Kinsley criticized Greenwald for treating the disclosure of the agency's top secret surveillance programs as a "straightforward" issue.

"But it’s not that simple, as Greenwald must know," Kinsley wrote. "There are laws against government eavesdropping on American citizens, and there are laws against leaking official government documents. You can’t just choose the laws you like and ignore the ones you don’t like. Or perhaps you can, but you can’t then claim that it’s all very straightforward."

Kinsley went on to criticize the Pulitzer Prize winner for cherry-picking sources in the book, arguing that Greenwald "quotes any person or publication taking his side in any argument." Moreover, Kinsley, a columnist for Vanity Fair and a longtime liberal commentator, wrote that Greenwald's citation of those sources "undermines his own argument that 'the authorities' brook no dissent."

"No one is stopping people from criticizing the government or supporting Greenwald in any way," Kinsley wrote. "Nobody is preventing the nation’s leading newspaper from publishing a regular column in its own pages dissenting from company or government orthodoxy."

Kinsley also defended "Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory, who pointedly asked Greenwald last summer why he shouldn't be charged with a crime for aiding and abetting Edward Snowden. Greenwald excoriated Gregory, but Kinsley wrote that it was a "perfectly reasonable" question to pose.

But Kinsley's most notable observation came at the end, when he wondered whether Greenwald might deserve to serve time for his role in the disclosures. Journalists shouldn't have carte blanche "to chase down and publish any national security leaks they can find," he argued.

"So what do we do about leaks of government information?" Kinsley wrote. "Lock up the perpetrators or give them the Pulitzer Prize? (The Pulitzer people chose the second option.) This is not a straightforward or easy question."

Never one to take criticism lying down, Greenwald on Thursday blasted Kinsley on Twitter.

He wrote that it was rich for a journalist to "think journalism should be a crime" and indicated that Kinsley's position was based on the fact that a Democrat currently occupies the White House.

And when Gregory described Kinsley's review as an "interesting addition to the debate," Greenwald said he was in stitches.