I think back to when I first read one of his posts at Salon during the end of the Bush administration. He was railing against Bush at that time and I was certainly sympathetic to that sentiment. But as I read his pieces, I noticed that he exaggerated an awful lot and took leaps with his conclusions and that didn’t sit well with me. I was all for attacking Bush, but because I am a political junky and was pretty informed on things, I noticed the exaggerations and in some cases, blatant lies. I didn’t join in with others in praising his “journalism”.
It was many years later that I learned that Glenn Greenwald hadn’t always railed against President Bush. In fact, he supported Bush and the many horrible things he did in the wake of 9/11 including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as supporting Bush during the time when the Patriot Act was passed. In light of what he is saying now, it should speak volumes about his integrity. Glenn has written about those of us who point this out and his attempt to dismiss his support for Bush is pretty lame. Ben Cohen from The Daily Banter wrote about this, go read it and have a laugh at Greenwald’s expense. Ben gives Glenn way too much credit, in my opinion.
Like Ben, I’m happy that Glenn finally opened up his eyes and realized the error of his ways. A little context though, Glenn wasn’t exactly a young, naive lad when he “had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration”, or “gave the administration the benefit of the doubt” or felt that President Bush was “entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to”. No, Glenn was 36 years old in 2003, when the bombs started falling on innocent people in Iraq, a war that I marched against.
So Glenn’s dishonesty and tendency to exaggerate and mislead his readers turned me off immediately. But that isn’t the main reason I write about Glenn Greenwald so frequently.
Glenn Greenwald is a bully. I hate bullies!
If you want to read more about his journalistic brutality, go read this post, or this one, or this one. Or just go to Google and search, there are many examples out there besides the ones I’ve written about.
How Can Greenwald Be So Wrong, So Much Of The Time
Glenn Greenwald loves hyperbole. Decades from now when scholars write about The Age Of Hyperbole that we are currently living in, Glenn Greenwald’s picture will surely be accompanying the journal articles.
“The objective of this is to enable the NSA to monitor EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION AND EVERY SINGLE FORM OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR!”
“The National Security Agency is currently devoted to the objective of creating a worldwide surveillance net that allows it to monitor what all human beings are doing and how they’re behaving and interacting with one another.”
I know there are a lot of paranoid people in this world who love that kind of talk, it feeds their paranoia and makes them feel like they are not alone. Any thinking, reasonable person who isn’t consumed with hatred or paranoia can read those words and realize they are completely over the top and can not possibly be true.
How many NSA employees do you think it would take to “MONITOR every single conversation and every single form of human behavior”? You see, Glenn doesn’t just think that the NSA is gathering meta data on who is calling who, after getting a warrant from a the FISA court (as dysfunctional as it is) because of intelligence on a suspected terrorist. No, Glenn thinks that there are people monitoring “every single conversation and every single form of human behavior”.
Bob Cesca has been keeping track of Glenn’s NSA “journalism” better than anyone and has coined the term “the 24 hour rule”, which basically says we should wait for the other shoe to drop before believing what ole Glenn Greenwald says.
Last week, Glenn made several statements to Christine Amanpour in an interview. Here are two of his long-winded, never stopping for a breath, answers. (My transcription and emphasis)
Answer 1: Let’s just use our common sense when analyzing the claims of political officials when they say that. Ever since 9/11, British and American officials have screamed terrorism over and over and over every time they get caught doing bad things they shouldn’t do – from lying to the public about invading Iraq to setting up a worldwide torture regime to kidnapping people and taking them around the world to be tortured – they just want to put the population in fear by saying the terrorists will get you if you don’t submit to whatever authority it is that we want to do. And that is all they are doing here, it’s the same tactic they always use. Let’s just use common sense, every terrorist who is capable of tying their own shoes, has long known that the U.S. government and U.K. government is trying to monitor their communications in every way that they can. That isn’t new, we didn’t reveal anything new to the terrorists they didn’t already know. What we revealed is that the spying system is largely devoted not to terrorists but is directed at innocent people around the world. That is what was not previously known and that is why American and British officials are so angry because they wanted to hide what the true purpose of the spying system is from the people at whom it’s directed and that is the only thing that is new in what we reported.
Answer 2: Well first of all a lot of people like to ask why is there so much anti-American sentiment around the world all you have to do is listen to that tape of Mike Rogers to understand it. He basically is going around telling the world that they ought to be grateful that without their knowledge, we are stealing ALL THEIR COMMUNICATIONS data and invading their privacy (Amanpour nods in agreement) None of this has anything to do with terrorism. Is Angela Merkel a terrorist? Are sixty or seventy million Spanish or French citizens terrorists? Are there terrorists at Petrobras? This is clearly about political power and economic espionage, and the claim that this is all about terrorism is seen around the world as what it is, which is pure deceit.”
I’ll get to the latest “24 hour rule” moment in a bit, but first let’s take a look at his penchant for hyperbole.
As with most of Glenn Greenwald’s rants, it isn’t necessarily the broad, populist, quotable punch line that is the problem, but what he says leading up to it. Make no mistake, Glenn is probably a great trial lawyer, although I’m sure a good opposing lawyer would be screaming “I object” an awful lot.
What stood out to me in Glenn’s response to Christine was the tainting of the jury along the way. I laughed out loud when I heard him say “Let’s just use our common sense” as he started. See the above part about how many NSA people it would take to monitor “every single conversation and every single form of human behavior” as you listen to Glenn talk about common sense.
Glenn starts his twisted reasoning by appealing to common, shared perceptions to get people nodding…like Amanpour herself…by, among other things, saying that U.S. and British officials always “scream” terrorism when they get caught doing “bad things”. He lists some of these bad things, starting with “from lying to the public about invading Iraq”…whoa, whoa, whoa…Glenn was supporting that group that was lying at the time and I know he is oh so sorry about that, but he fell for the bullshit none-the-less. There were a lot of us who didn’t. It speaks to his judgement at the tender age of 36.
Greenwald then gets bold and says “to setting up a worldwide torture regime”, which is clearly directed at his paranoid, conspiratorial readers. Because it isn’t just a few places where our government and allies take prisoners to be held and questioned, and yes, sometimes tortured too…which of course, I don’t approve of, but to Glenn, it’s labeled a “worldwide torture regime”. Oh, that hyperbole must make him tingle.
A little bit further on in his rant, he uses a pretty slick tactic when he says that “Every terrorist…has long known that the U.S. government and U.K. government is trying to monitor their communications in every way that they can” and then claims that this is “nothing new”. Except, uh, Glenn…you told the terrorists “how” they are being monitored and that IS new.
Glenn then proceeds to his real thesis that the “spies” aren’t out to get terrorists, they are out to get innocent, little ole YOU! This thesis occurs frequently in his writings and is much more pronounced in his TV appearances, because he can’t go back and edit his words once they’ve flown out of his mouth and he can’t add “updates” to Christine Amanpour’s program like he is known for in his hyperbolic writing. This is what he said, “the spying system is largely devoted not to terrorists but is directed at innocent people around the world.” He really believes that the target of all this spying is innocent people. He has strayed from what most people probably think – that in the effort to get terrorists, innocent people are being “monitored” and having their rights trampled on. Glenn sees it as a fiendish plot to go after YOU, run hide, build a bunker, buy some guns…they are coming for you. A little later he claims that it is “because they wanted to hide what the true purpose of the spying system is”, once again, referring to “innocent” people, just like you.
In the final sentence of his interview, Greenwald says “This is clearly about political power and economic espionage…” in reference to the accusations of the NSA spying on Germany and France. Well the “24 hour rule” destroys Glenn’s hyperbolic proclamation. Turns out the intelligence agencies in each of those countries shared that information with the U.S. government and the cooperation was geared towards tracking down terrorists. From of all places, the Guardian…
The German, French and Spanish governments have reacted angrily to reports based on National Security Agency (NSA) files leaked by Snowden since June, revealing the interception of communications by tens of millions of their citizens each month. US intelligence officials have insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved and shared with the US.
I’m sure all of that is appealing to the paranoid, conspiracists and the narcissists who think the whole damn world revolves around them and don’t have any problem thinking they are so damn important that the U.S. government is paying someone lots of money to monitor them and steal “ALL YOUR COMMUNICATIONS DATA”. Cue the Twilight Zone music!
Part of the problem with the current state of our politics and media is that it is loaded with narcissists, nihilists and conspiracy loons. Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Greenwald all know who their target audience is and Glenn has just sliced off a piece from the left flank of that crowd.
I wish more of the national media would listen more carefully to Glenn Greenwald or wait for the other shoe to drop before running with one of his stories, but I’m sure many of them just don’t want to deal with the other thing Glenn is good at…the bullying.
Bob Cesca has been doing amazing work lately in keeping track of the massive misinformation campaign orchestrated primarily by The Guardian, a publication that has gone full anti-American with the help of Wikileaks and other anarchists. Cesca wrote a brilliant article that points out many things I’ve been thinking as well. From Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter…
And, yes, the government also collects relatively minor bits of your internet data (with multi-layered oversight, warrants, anonymization, minimization and deletion) in its efforts to track down enemies.
Liberals ought to be far more suspicious of for-profit corporations handling our private data than the government’s handling of considerably less of it. But that doesn’t appear to be the case, and this is where everything gets wacky.
NSA, and the U.S. government in general, isn’t interested in our Instagram pics of our disgusting dinners or our Wonka memes or our goats-that-scream-like-men videos. But Facebook is. Google is. Corporations are exploiting nearly everything you type and following you wherever your browse. They’re compiling it. They’re distributing it. They’re sharing it. They’re using your data to determine which products you might want to purchase. They’re censoring your breast-feeding pics and perhaps even threatening you with prosecution if you download an episode of Game of Thrones from Bit Torrent.
And people are wailing and chest-thumping over inadvertent government metadata collection with strict rules that prohibit infringements on Fourth Amendment liberty? That’s rich.
You should go read Bob Cesca’s entire article, he points out that most websites have “trackers” built in that gather more information than the NSA on each of us. Bob also points out, “For what it’s worth, Glenn Greenwald’s XKEYSCORE article on The Guardian contained 27 trackers, including PRISM participants Google and Facebook.”
I’ll leave you with my favorite paragraph from Bob’s article…
How shall we explain the disparity between the Great Fear of the government collecting minimal data and the almost unspoken reality that corporations have compiled massive data clouds about every user and every customer? I don’t know for sure. It could be a result of pissy-pants disillusionment over the Obama presidency based on overblown idealism, political ignorance and unrealistic expectations. It could be the consequence of an onslaught of fear-mongering from news outlets posting cavalcades of scare-headlines and misleading articles about NSA surveillance. Or it could be an increasingly evident paradigm shift in which the far-left is blending into fringe libertarian territory. I never thought it likely given libertarianism’s small government, states’ rights posture, but there it is.
It’s fascinating for someone who has kept a critical eye on Glenn Greenwald to see him playing in the big leagues and striking out so much. I do believe it’s time for him to be sent back down to the minors.
Glenn Greenwald frequently attacks people who disagree with him, he can’t help himself. He has a hair trigger on that gun of his and likes to shoot it off. (By the way, he is against gun control, in case you weren’t aware.)
The most recent example of Glenn’s penchant for lashing out happened on Twitter as he attacked Daniel Serwer of Johns Hopkins University and peacefare.net.
Well, that one little tweet from the “Rio Pundit” prompted quite a backlash from many different directions. One of the best came from Adam Serwer, Daniel Serwer’s son, a writer for Mother Jones and a reporter for MSNBC.com.
Glenn Greenwald’s knee-jerk attack on Daniel Serwer revealed exactly how GG rolls. I wrote a post recently, The Top 5 Exaggerations By Glenn Greenwald On NSA!, that looked at just a few of Glenn’s exaggerations in his latest 15 minutes of fame. This one tweet from Glenn is both an exaggeration and an attack, combining two of his favorite tactics. And for those that say Glenn is “smart”, please read that tweet one more time.
Daniel Serwer, the person that Glenn tried to dismiss by claiming Edward Snowden had “done far more for the world in the last two months than you have in your life”, has actually spent most of his adult life working for peace. Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has Daniel’s bio and gives his take on this incident. Here is a piece of the bio…
Daniel Serwer (Ph.D., Princeton) is a Professor of Conflict Management, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is also a Scholar at the Middle East Institute.
Formerly Vice President for Centers of Peacebuilding Innovation at the United States Institute of Peace (2009-10), he led teams there working on rule of law, religion, economics, media, technology, security sector governance and gender. He was previously Vice President for Peace and Stability Operations at USIP, where he led its peacebuilding work in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and the Balkans and served as Executive Director of the Hamilton/Baker Iraq Study Group. Serwer has worked on preventing interethnic and sectarian conflict in Iraq and has facilitated dialogue between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans.
I won’t spend time pushing back against the Snowden claim, you can go read some of Bob Cesca’s work here, here and here if you want to get up to speed on the issues surrounding the Edward Snowden leaks.
One of the main tactics Glenn Greenwald uses is to attack anyone who challenges him, with venom and over the top projections of all things evil onto his target. I’ve personally been called a few names by him, mostly because I support President Obama. He really dislikes people who support President Obama. Joy-Ann Reid wrote about this a while back.
Anyone who fails to loathe Obama as he does is an “Obama lover” (just chew on that, if you’re African-American) or a “cultist.” It isn’t possible that Obama could do anything that isn’t vile and insipid and worthy of continual, emphatic condemnation.
Since I’ve spent way too much time reading and writing about Glenn Greenwald, mostly because I despise his tactics, but in all candor, partly because he has such a profound hatred for President Obama, I thought I’d share some links I have gathered over the years. You can decide for yourself how you feel about Glenn, considering the following.
10 Examples of Glenn Greenwald Attacks
1. When the “don’t touch my junk” guy emerged on the scene, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine wrote a piece questioning some issues surrounding that incident, Glenn Greenwald pounced on them. Go read this account by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, it’s quite remarkable.
2. Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution wrote a great piece explaining why he won’t engage with Glenn Greenwald and the piece reveals a lot of what others have seen too. It is one of the reasons why I quit interacting with Glenn, I’ve blocked him on Twitter and try not to read any of his trolling drivel.
3. Glenn Greenwald set his aim at Wired Magazine when they published the chat logs of Bradley Manning, which got him busted. The targets of his attack on this time were Evan Hansen and Kevin Poulsen. (You may have to Google ‘The Curious Case of Glenn Greenwald vs. Wired magazine’ if you hit a paywall)
4. One of the worst attacks Glenn has made over the years, which he has never apologized for, involved joining in on attacking a friend of mine, Imani Gandy (Angry Black Lady). This one included tweeting about rape with one of his minions.
5. Ben Cohen at The Daily Banter (a most excellent site), wrote a great piece about Glenn attacking fellow journalists who supported the Iraq War…but of course, Glenn Greenwald told us in his own words how he supported President Bush in his invasion and slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s. And of course, Glenn was also supporting President Bush when he rammed the Patriot Act through…you know, that law that started much of the surveillance that Glenn now rails against.
6. Jonathon Chait wrote a hilarious and revealing post titled “Glenn Greenwald is Ralph Nader“, which prompted Glenn Greenwald to attack Paul Krugman…go read it, you’ll see why. And here is a post detailing the attack on Paul Krugman, for making a reference to the NSA story.
7. You have to give Greenwald credit for taking on people who are way smarter than he is. Here is an exchange between Al Giordano and Glenn Greenwald that has a lot to do with the current NSA revelations, this is a must read if you want to be informed and entertained. I wish Al posted more often, he is amazing.
8. Chez Pazienza wrote a terrific piece called “The Daily Banter’s Official Helpful Media Guide for Interacting With Glenn Greenwald” that is a must read for anyone thinking of saying anything that Glenn Greenwald disagrees with.
9. This little skirmish with Sam Harris is pretty interesting. Sam Harris likes to tell it like it is and Glenn got a little bit of push back from Sam.
10. The last one I’ll throw in the mix is Greenwald’s attack on David Gregory, which I have mixed feelings about. David Gregory asked a horrible question loaded with innuendo and completely blew the opportunity to ask a really good one and then hammer Glenn until he answered it. The question I would have asked is “did you have any contact with Edward Snowden before he took the job at Booz Allen?” A lot of people want to know the answer to that question. It seems to me that the protection a journalist has by saying that someone came to them with information kind of flies out the window IF that “journalist” had something to do with stealing the information. And please, any GG minions, spare me turning that last sentence into an accusation, the word “IF” should be your clue. The act of stealing the information and then publishing it are separate acts.
Bringing it back to the original Glenn Greenwald attack, I think Daniel Serwer’s final tweet to Glenn Greenwald is pure perfection.
Federal prosecutors filed espionage charges against alleged National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, officials familiar with the process said. Authorities have also begun the process of getting Snowden back to the United States to stand trial.
The officials did not describe the charges in detail because they’ve been filed under seal in federal court in Alexandria, Va. The documents are not publicly available.
According to officials, charges accuse Snowden of violating federal espionage laws by sharing classified documents with people who were not cleared to receive them. Charges also accuse him of stealing government property.
If only someone had told Edward Snowden that books have been written about what the NSA does. It’s a damn shame to see him spend years in prison for such ignorance.
The Patriot Act was signed on October 26, 2001 and this is what Glenn Greenwald wrote in the preface to his own book – his words, not mine…(emphasis IS mine)
This is not to say that I was not angry about the attacks. I believed that Islamic extremism posed a serious threat to the country, and I wanted an aggressive response from our government. I was ready to stand behind President Bush and I wanted him to exact vengeance on the perpetrators and find ways to decrease the likelihood of future attacks. During the following two weeks, my confidence in the Bush administration grew as the president gave a series of serious, substantive, coherent, and eloquent speeches that struck the right balance between aggression and restraint. And I was fully supportive of both the president’s ultimatum to the Taliban and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan when our demands were not met. Well into 2002, the president’s approval ratings remained in the high 60 percent range, or even above 70 percent, and I was among those who strongly approved of his performance. [...]
During the lead-up to the invasion, I was concerned that the hell-bent focus on invading Iraq was being driven by agendas and strategic objectives that had nothing to do with terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. The overt rationale for the invasion was exceedingly weak, particularly given that it would lead to an open-ended, incalculably costly, and intensely risky preemptive war. Around the same time, it was revealed that an invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein had been high on the agenda of various senior administration officials long before September 11. Despite these doubts, concerns, and grounds for ambivalence, I had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration. Between the president’s performance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the swift removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fact that I wanted the president to succeed, because my loyalty is to my country and he was the leader of my country, I still gave the administration the benefit of the doubt. I believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to, and to the extent that I was able to develop a definitive view, I accepted his judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.
While I was screaming at my TV and marching in the streets in protest of the Patriot Act, the Afghanistan War and later the Iraq War, Glenn Greenwald “was ready to stand behind President Bush” and wanted to “exact VENGEANCE on the perpetrators.” And he “believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgement deferred to”, which of course included the passage of The Patriot Act on October 26, 2001.
So yeah, Glenn Greenwald, why exactly should I listen to him now?