I have this fantasy that there are real journalists left in the world of cable news. But just like my other fantasies, they never seem to come true. (Insert Rimshot here)
Glenn Greenwald’s latest piece of “advocacy” journalism deals with events that started in 2002 and ended in 2008. It involves the NSA under President Bush spying on 5 prominent Americans who are Muslim. For the record, at the time the Cheney/Bush administration was selling their lies to the American people, I was marching against their march to war.
What was Glenn Greenwald thinking in 2002, when this spying began. From the preface to one of Glenn’s books, his own words…
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. (emphasis mine)
Think about that for a minute. Greenwald was 36 years old at the time, according to my calculations. Not some young naive kid. Whenever he has tried to refute my pointing that out, he usually says something like, “everyone was doing it.” As my mother would occasionally say, if everyone jumped off a cliff, does that mean you should too?
More from Glenn Greenwald’s own keyboard…
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. […]
Glenn “strongly approved of his (Bush’s) performance.” As I was screaming at my television as the propaganda poured out of the television, with conjecture, flag waving, minimization of dissenting opinions…”if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Well, Glenn Greenwald was WITH President George W. Bush as he started his “aggressive response” and “exact(ed) vengeance on the perpetrators.”
I’m sure Glenn regrets writing that preface, just a little more of his love for President Bush.
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.
I guess Glenn Greenwald made the cable TV rounds the other day after publishing his latest piece. Back to my fantasy. I was amusing myself by thinking of questions Chris L. Hayes might ask him on his show like…
1. In 2002, when this surveillance began, you were supporting President Bush and even put in the preface to your book that you were “ready to stand behind President Bush and I wanted him to exact vengeance on the perpetrators.” Do you feel any remorse for enabling the exact thing that you now decry?
2. Do you still believe that “American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country”, as you put in your book? What exactly were you thinking in 2002 when you wrote that?
3. Why is it that you “trusted”, “deferred to”, had “confidence in”, “strongly approved”, was “fully supportive” of Bush, gave Bush the “benefit of the doubt” and believed that President Bush “was entitled to have his national security judgement deferred to” BUT when a Democratic president comes into office, one who ended the Iraq War, ended the torture of innocent people, ended DADT, is ending the war in Afghanistan and hasn’t started any wars…why has that president had nothing but negative blog posts written about him. Glenn?
Those are just a few of the questions I fantasize about journalists asking of Glenn Greenwald.
Feel free to make your own conclusions about why Greenwald was so supportive of the administration that brought on most of the NSA abuses but has nothing but contempt for President Obama, one of the very few voices in the lead up to the Iraq war who was brave enough to stand up as a State Senator and say…
What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. (emphasis mine)
There is quite a contrast there, wouldn’t you say?
Check out this quote from an article in the New York Times about Glenn Greenwald when he shared his approach to “journalism”…
“I approach my journalism as a litigator,” he said. “People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.”
Jonathon Chait talked about this quote in an interesting article he wrote comparing Glenn Greenwald to Ralph Nadar…
That is a highly self-aware account. Of course, the job description of a litigator does not include being fair. You take a side, assume the other side is lying, and prosecute your side full tilt. It’s not your job to account for evidence that undermines your case — it’s your adversary’s job to point that out.
Glenn Greenwald has clearly taken a side, just like he did in 2002 when the Cheney/Bush administration began to “exact vengeance on the perpetrators” and Glenn was there cheering them along.