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Glenn Greenwald (born 1967) is an American Pulitzer-achieving journalist and attorney who has written for Salon and The Guardian and is now at eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar's successful vanity project First Look Media, which funds The Intercept, an investigative journal he co-launched with Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras in 2014. Greenwald's beat has generally included national security issues as they impact on civil liberties, free speech and press freedom, media criticism and U.S. and allies' foreign policy in the Middle East.
While at the Guardian, in late 2012 he was approached online by an anonymous person who would eventually claim to have documents from the NSA revealing U.S.-led global electronic surveillance. In May of 2013, Greenwald, along with his friend and colleague Poitras and Guardian journalist Ewen McAskill, all met Edward Snowden in Hong Kong and began reporting on top secret documents revealing a Global Surveillance Apparatus which included telephone metadata of all Americans. Thanks to Greenwald's efforts, the Guardian and the Washington Post won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in the category of Public Service. Greenwald's writing can be pretty....out there (mixing fact and hyperbole to sensationalize for a purpose), but you can't deny he pioneered an entirely new form of journalism on the back of the Snowden files.
Greenwald is gay and lives in Brazil with his spouse, Brazilian national and city councilman David Miranda. When they became a couple, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act was still in effect in the U.S. and Miranda could not have received a visa to live in the U.S. with Greenwald, but Brazil recognized their relationship and granted a visa to Greenwald.
He has been hotly critical of both the Republican and Democratic parties. In his first year of blogging, Glenn's posts were decidedly more right-wing, with such pearls as "The parade of evils caused by illegal immigration is widely known, and it gets worse every day." Greenwald has since added a note to that article pointing out that he no longer holds that view and supports the DREAM Act.
Though he acquiesced to the Iraq War, by the time he started blogging in 2005, Greenwald had turned against it. His writing has consistently been critical of both that war and its neoconservative promoters. He began to write scathing pieces on the NSA's Bush-era warrantless wiretapping scandal pointing out dangers in the PATRIOT Act, and scrutinizing the administration's justifications for Guantanamo.
Greenwald has long refused to identify himself politically and finds political labels nearly meaningless:
Ever since I began writing about politics back in 2005, people have tried to apply pretty much every political label to me. It's almost always a shorthand method to discredit someone without having to engage the substance of their arguments. It's the classic ad hominem fallacy: you don't need to listen to or deal with his arguments because he's an X.
Back then - when I was writing every day to criticize the Bush administration - Bush followers tried to apply the label "far leftist" to me. Now that I spend most of my energy writing critically about the Obama administration, Obama followers try to claim I'm a "right-wing libertarian."
Support (or not) for Ron Paul
Greenwald stands accused by Democrats of being a closet Libertarian, having spoken in front of the Koch Brothers' Cato Institute.  To the consternation of critics, Greenwald has spoken more than once at a Socialism Conference where he nearly gushes warmth and enthusiasm. Greenwald has also advocated many positions libertarians would hate, such as opposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
Greenwald was one of three speakers at the 2014 YAL (Young Americans for Liberty) National Convention; the other two were Ron and Rand Paul. Greenwald does hold Dr. Paul in some esteem, but he laments the man's checkered past:
There are very few political priorities, if there are any, more imperative than having an actual debate on issues of America’s imperialism; the suffocating secrecy of its government; the destruction of civil liberties which uniquely targets Muslims, including American Muslims; the corrupt role of the Fed; corporate control of government institutions by the nation’s oligarchs; its destructive blind support for Israel, and its failed and sadistic Drug War. More than anything, it’s crucial that choice be given to the electorate by subverting the two parties’ full-scale embrace of these hideous programs.
I wish there were someone who did not have Ron Paul’s substantial baggage to achieve this.
His opinion of Baby Doc is on point, too.
As Ed Brayton has noted, many conflate Greenwald's narrow approval of select Paul positions with endorsement (something Brayton himself is often accused of). Brayton labels Greenwald's analysis of Paul as "brilliant," declaring that it "perfectly explains why I have said many of the things I’ve said about Ron Paul...it also speaks strongly to the question of how liberals should handle libertarians and libertarianism as a whole." 
So potent is this poison that no inoculation against it exists. No matter how expressly you repudiate the distortions in advance, they will freely flow. Hence: I’m about to discuss the candidacies of Barack Obama and Ron Paul, and no matter how many times I say that I am not “endorsing” or expressing support for anyone’s candidacy, the simple-minded Manicheans and the lying partisan enforcers will claim the opposite.
In point of fact, his only political endorsements have been given to left-wing Democrats, e.g. Russ Feingold and Rush Holt. In 2016, Greenwald published his interview of progressive Democrat, Tim Canova, who is challenging incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the Florida primaries. Greenwald linked to a site where contributions to Canova's campaign may be made. Canova is controversial for being a militant Zionist, He opposed the Iran nuclear deal, accusing Wasserman Schultz of being "in on it", He later changed his position on it, stating that he supported it's "its full implementation". only to go back to being against it shortly after.
“”I approach my journalism as a litigator. People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.
Greenwald is a former civil rights lawyer, and writes and speaks as a contentious litigator would. People (especially Greenwald himself) describe him as a journalist, but there's no record of him ever being hired as one. Which is good, because if we judged him by the standards we judge actual journalists, he would be graded very poorly.
It's important to remember he has no particular expertise in (irony) technology, foreign policy, the military, or the intelligence service. Anyone with IT knowledge just scoffs at the stuff he writes, but people who know just a bit don't know enough to poke holes. Which doesn't mean he can't report on these topics, but actual reporters fill the holes in their knowledge with expert sources. Greenwald's only source was Snowden and the documents he provided. He relied on no one else, and filled a lot of the holes with insinuation. None of this is to say the NSA story wasn't—and isn't—pertinent. But Greenwald's coverage caused more problems than it needed to.
In his initial story on the PRISM affair, Greenwald states that:
The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.
The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.
The NSA never had "direct access" to any of these companies or their systems. They make requests for information on specific users, and that information is vetted and sent out by the companies. The NSA never touched those servers themselves, only requested information that was delivered to them. Greenwald implies that the agency has unhindered access to any information these servers contain, without oversight. WaPo made similar claims and ended up walking them back. Other reporters at the Guardian had to mop-up after Greenwald's sloppy reporting. Greenwald never walked it back or corrected it. Yet the difference between having unfettered access to servers and having a drop box for companies to voluntarily send information is enormous. It's the difference between massive government overreach and an investigative tool which may require more oversight. Greenwald strongly implies the former, and he responds to criticism by doubling-down.
It's essential to remember that in all his reporting, Greenwald never actually revealed any wrongdoing at the NSA. He never revealed a criminal act. He describes the legal system we have in place (controversial in its own right, and the NSA has engaged in illegal warrantless wiretapping in the past), but he can't prove it's being misused. That's not the impression you get from reading his articles, though! He hints at illegality constantly. From his PRISM story:
It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.
This happens a lot in Greenwald's "reporting"—insinuating more than he can actually prove. From an article on the NSA adding surveillance devices to computer equipment being shipped abroad:
The NSA routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers.
He followed up with this on The Colbert Report:
If people around the world buy routers and switches from American companies, they literally physically interdict the product out of the mail, open up the package, stick a backdoor device into it and reseal the products and send it on to the unwitting user.
His 'evidence' for it got buried in an unindexed PDF on his personal website. From that PDF:
Here’s how it works: shipments of computer network devices (servers, routers, etc.) being delivered to our targets throughout the world are intercepted. Next, they are redirected to a secret location where Tailored Access Operations/Access Operations (AO-S326) employees, with the support of the Remote Operations Center (S321), enable the installation of beacon implants directly into our targets‘ electronic devices.
So it's a program for spying on select foreign targets? (You know, the sort of thing we pay spy agencies for.) But Greenwald implies it's being used to spy on the public. He leaves out the specifics to sensationalize the story, letting his readers' imaginations fill in the gaps where the nuance and facts would ordinarily go.
Glenn's problems didn't end when he moved to First Look Media, home of his multi-million dollar venture The Intercept. Take this article on the government spying on Muslim-Americans. Despite the headline and big, scary "Under Surveillance" banner, the article provides no evidence that the men in question are still being spied on:
Given that the government’s justifications for subjecting Gill and the other U.S. citizens to surveillance remain classified, it is impossible to know why their emails were monitored, or the extent of the surveillance. It is also unclear under what legal authority it was conducted, whether the men were formally targeted under FISA warrants, and what, if anything, authorities found that permitted them to continue spying on the men for prolonged periods of time. But the five individuals share one thing in common: Like many if not most of the people listed in the NSA spreadsheet, they are of Muslim heritage.
To sum up: the article hints at religious discrimination and ethnic hatred (it cannot prove) and illegal surveillance (without proving it), and Greenwald cannot know why these men were monitored, for how long, or to what extent. In almost 9000 words, all Glenn proves is that five Muslim-Americans had their emails monitored from 2002-2008. He could be right that the monitoring was unwarranted, illegal and racially-motivated. But that "could" represents a big gap where all of Greenwald's reporting should be. We know the NSA was engaged in warrantless wiretapping up until 2008, with NYT reporting on it as early as 2005. (He knows those men were spied because was their names were in a FISA court document, which implies warrants were issued.) So he treats it like a bombshell revelation that the US government spied on Americans at a time when the US government admitted it was spying on Americans. And he can't prove it's still ongoing.
For Greenwald, that something could happen automatically means it does. He has an ideological bent he won't admit to; agendas he won't disclose fully. His reporting on the NSA story was full of holes, errors and exaggerations from the start.
- Some claim he was using sockpuppet accounts a few years ago to self-promote.
- He defended Citizens United, to much progressive confusion. Glenn would also be happy to see a billionaire run without the help of a major party, to “disrupt the two-party stranglehold.”
- There is no such thing as an “Indefinite Detention Bill”. To imply there is means you’re also implying that Obama could have vetoed that bill without killing the entire NDAA.
- He supported Oath Keepers, a far-right militia who believe, among other things, that Barack Obama is a card-carrying communist, the U.N. is going to put troops on American soil, and US cities will soon be turned into concentration camps under FEMA. The Oath Keepers were well-known within the libertarian movement, and whilst Greenwald isn't one (at least not of the "right"-libertarian persuasion), he has published within those channels when it suited him before.
- He claims Democrats are censoring his articles on Reddit to whitewash Obama. Misuse of the word censorship and claiming the government is secretly running the internet. That's what you look for in a journalist!
- His postmortem of the FBI inquiry of Clinton stated that she (a) demonstrated "malignant intent" in setting up a private server, (b) we (read: the law) should distinguish between malignant intent and "benevolent" intent (a la Snowden, Greenwald), and (c) he thinks that Hillary should not have been indicted. Those are logically incompatible. Which is to say, Glenn wouldn't be happier in the world he wishes for, nor in the world he already lives in.
- Greenwald originally, as an apolitical full-time lawyer-- acquieced to the Iraq War and, though he condemned his original opinion of the war, he has since accurately insisted he never wrote or spoke in defense of the war.
- The most recent NSA leaker was a Bernie supporter who "resists" Trump. Probably explains why she idiotically leaked it to a pro-Russia "anti-establishment" outlet tied to WikiLeaks instead of WaPo, WSJ, NYT, etc. And then they hilariously burned her and went straight to the NSA with the documents before publishing anything. If she had trusted a reputable newspaper which cared at all about protecting its sources, she wouldn't be in jail right now. According to David Folkenflik of National Public Radio, "An Intercept reporter shared a photo of the papers with a source, a government contractor whom he trusted, seeking to validate it. The printout included a postmark of Augusta, Ga., and microdots, a kind of computerized fingerprint. The contractor told his bosses, who informed the FBI. Verifying the legitimacy of leaked documents is common journalism practice, as is protecting third parties who may be incidentally harmed by the leak being published. However, professional media outlets who receive documents or recordings from confidential sources do not, as a practice, share the unfiltered primary evidence with a federal agency for review or verification, as it is known that metadata and unique identifiers may be revealed that were not obvious to the journalist, and the source exposed.
News Team Fight
Greenwald is legendary for his sparring matches with — and dripping contempt for — most mainstream journalists. In an exchange with David Gregory on NBC’s Meet the Press that went viral, Greenwald blasted Gregory for "publicly mus[ing] about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies.” During an appearance on a CNN panel discussion of Wikileaks, Greenwald mocked Jessica Yellin for (in his view) operating as a government mouthpiece. he subsequently wrote a piece on Yellin's sad performance, heaping scorn on "America’s intrepid Watchdog journalists." Perhaps Greenwald's most memorable contretemps with a journalist was his appearance on BBC's Newsnight, when interviewer Kristy Wark asked what Greenwald was hiding in his bedroom (she speculated he might have some Snowden documents there). British journalist Jonathan Cook said Wark fired "questions so childish even she seems to realise half way through them how embarrassing they are."  Greenwald, of course, was hardly left speechless and the entire "interview" is worth watching for the entertainment value.
Prominent attorney Alan Dershowitz detests Greenwald and considers him an "anti-American" felon who "loves tyrannical regimes." Greenwald fully returns the animosity, and the day before a Toronto-based formal debate — which Greenwald won — on the legality and morality of the NSA programs confirmed by the Snowden documents. Greenwald said he finds Dershowitz (along with General Michael Hayden, Dershowitz's debate partner) to be "...two of the most pernicious human beings on the planet. I find them morally offensive. There’s an element of hypocrisy to being in the same room with them, treating them as if I have outward respect, because I don’t."
Another reason for the feud is that Dershowitz is a pro-Israel advocate, while Greenwald just as fiercely criticizes both that country and the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. It has been put forth that Greenwald's statements on Israel and the pro-Israel lobby are anti-semitic. Greenwald dismisses these accusations, declaring that Zionists are "casually and promiscuously accusing political adversaries of anti-semitism". He warns that "cheapening the charge of anti-semitism through frivolous and politically manipulative uses weakens the ability to combat actual, real anti-semitism." It is also worth noting that Greenwald is himself "ethnically" Jewish.
Books and films
- How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok (2006)
- A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency (2007)
- Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics (2008)
- With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful (2012)
- No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (2015)
Films about Greenwald:
- Citizenfour (2014) (Winner of 2014 Academy Award for best documentary. Footage of Greenwald, Snowden and McAskill in Hong Kong and examination of privacy implications of the NSA's myriad electronic surveillance programs.)
- Snowden (set to release in May 2016. Directed by Oliver Stone. Snowden portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Greenwald by Zachary Quinto, and Poitras by Melissa Leo.)
- Greenwald's blog Unclaimed Territory (no entries since 2007)
- Greenwald's column at Salon
- Greenwald's column at The Guardian
- The Intercept, Greenwald, Poitras, and Scahill's news site
- Moss, Stephen, "Jeremy Scahill: the man exposing the US Dirty War", Guardian (11/24/13 at 14.00 EST).
- McLaughlin, Jenna, "Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government to Find Out Why She Was Repeatedly Stopped at the Border", Intercept (7/13/15 at 12:29 p.m.).
- Carmon, Irin, "How we broke the NSA story", Salon (6/10/13 at 02:20 PM PST).
- Snowden biography at Bio.com.
- McLaughlin, Jenna, "Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government to Find Out Why She Was Repeatedly Stopped at the Border", Intercept (7/13/15 at 12:29 p.m.).
- "Edward Snowden: Leaks that exposed US spy programme", BBC 1.17.14.
- Calderone, Michael, "The Guardian, Washington Post Win Pulitzer Prize For NSA Coverage", HuffPo, updated 4/14/14.
- Bernstein, Fred, "Glenn Greenwald: Life Beyond Borders", Out (4/18/11 at 20:00).
- Vargas-Cooper, Natasha, "David Miranda Is Nobody’s Errand Boy", Buzzfeed (11/14/13 at 6:40 p.m.).
- Greenwald, "Daley is a reflection, not a cause", Salon (1/7/11 at 4:08 AM PST).
- Greenwald, "The GOP fights itself on Illegal Immigration ", Unclaimed Territory 11.19.05.
- Greenwald, How Would A Patriot Act?: Defending American Values from a President Run Amok, Working Assets 2006
- Greenwald, "The new Pro-War Justification is Unveiled", Unclaimed Territory 11.21.05.
- Greenwald, "NSA legal arguments", Unclaimed Territory 2.19.06.
- Greenwald, "Propaganda about the Patriot Act", Unclaimed Territory 12.15.05.
- Greenwald, "The significance of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ", Unclaimed Territory 6.29.06
- "Glenn Greenwald Responds to Widespread Lies About Him (on Cato, Iraq War, and more)", Daily Kos (6/30/13 at 10:12 AM PST).
- Profile at Cato Unbound.
- Wiletz, Sean, "Would You Feel Differently About Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange If You Knew What They Really Thought?", New Republican 1.19.14.
- Kincaid, Cliff, "Glenn Greenwald Regularly Attends Marxist-Leninist Conferences", AIM 6.13.13.
- Blood, Jack, "How America’s Surveillance State Breeds Conformity and Fear", Deadline Live 7.7.12.
- Greenwald, "Reports: Obama pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare", Salon (7/7/11 at 5:08 AM PST).
- Greenwald, "Martha Raddatz and the Faux Objectivity of Journalists", Common Dreams 10.12.12.
- Fast-forward to 8:00 to get a good sense of it.
- Greenwald, "Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies", Salon (12/31/11 at 8:15 AM PST).
- 1/7/15 Tweet.
- Brayton, Ed, "Greenwald on Ron Paul and Sports Fan Politics", Patheos 1.4.12.
- Greenwald, "Interview with Sen. Russ Feingold", Salon (9/14/10 at 3:15 AM PST).
- "NJ-Sen: Glenn Greenwald Will "Geek Out" With Rush Holt (D) Tomorrow", Daily Kos (7/29/13 at 3:00 PM PDT).
- Greenwald, "Meet Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s First-Ever Primary Challenger: Tim Canova", Intercept (1/19/16 at 10:17 a.m.).
- Noam Cohen and Leslie Kaufman, "Blogger, With Focus on Surveillance, Is at Center of a Debate", NYT 6 June 2013.
- Paziena, Chaz, "Glenn Greenwald: Asshole", Daily Banter 5.8.14.
- Paziena, Chaz, "The Daily Banter's Official Helpful Media Guide for Interacting With Glenn Greenwald", Daily Banter 6.10.16.
- Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, "NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others ", Guardian (6/7/13 at 15.23 EDT).
- Blodget, Henry. "The Washington Post Has Now Hedged Its Stunning Claim About Google, Facebook, Etc, Giving The Government Direct Access To Their Servers", Business Insider (6/7/13 at 5:14 PM ).
- Charlies Arthur and Dominic Rushe, "NSA scandal: Microsoft and Twitter join calls to disclose data requests", Guardian (6/12/13 at 14.50 EDT).
- Jaquith, Mark, "The PRISM Details Matter", Medium 6/14/13.
- Greenwald, "Glenn Greenwald: how the NSA tampers with US-made internet routers", Guardian (5/12/14 at 17.39 EDT).
- Cesca, Bob, "Greenwald Misleads Again, This Time It's About NSA and Internet Routers", Daily Banter 5.13.14.
- Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, "Meet the Muslum-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On", The Intercept (7/8/14, 9:01 p.m).
- James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts", NYT 12.16.05.
- Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, "The Extraordinary Pierre Omidyar", nsfwcorp (11/15/13 at 11:51 a.m.).
- The Glenn Greenwald Sock Puppet Story, From Start To (Almost) Finish
- Goodman, Amy, "Dennis Kucinich vs. Glenn Greenwald: Is Citizens United a Deathblow for Democracy or a 1st Amendment Victory?", AlterNet 2.9.10. He's 100% a left-libertarian, as much as he likes to deny it.
- Lessig, Lawrence, "The Principled and Pure Court? A Reply to Glenn Greenwald", HuffPo. Updated 5.25.11.
- Greenwald, "Obama to sign indefinite detention bill into law ", Salon (12/15/11 at 01:31 AM PST).
- Mikkelson, David, "National Defense Authorization Act Fact Check", Snopes.
- Paziena, Chaz, "The Single Worst Thing Ever To Come Off of Glenn Greenwald's Keyboard", Daily Banter 9.12.13.
- AMA with Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain.
- Cesca, Bob, "Greenwald: "Nobody Should Use Facebook" -- Except Greenwald and The Intercept", Daily Banter 11.3.14.
- Greenwald, "Washington Has Been Obsessed With Punishing Secrecy Violations — Until Hillary Clinton", Intercept (7/5?16 at 12:58 p.m.).
- Sydney Amber and Michael F. Grynbaum, "BuzzFeed Posts Unverified Claims on Trump, Igniting a Debate", NYT 10 January 2017.
- Sutton, Kelsey, "The Intercept is investigating its publication of the NSA document tied to reality winner", Mic 14 June 2017.
- Edwards, David, "Greenwald shames David Gregory for asking if he should be prosecuted for helping Snowden", Raw Story (1/23/13 at 11:52 ET).
- Greenwald, "The merger of journalists and government officials", Salon (12/28/10 at 2:29 AM PST).
- Cook, Jonathan, "The most embarrassing news interview ever", 10.4.13.
- "Dershowitz: Glenn Greenwald "Did This Because He Hates America'", RCP 6.25.13.
- Cole, Juan, "Greenwald vs NSA’s Hayden: Glenn Wins in a Slam Dunk", Informed Comment 5.4.14.
- Nolan, Stephanie, "Glenn Greenwald on politeness, privacy and the surveillance state", Globe and Mail (Last updated 5/2/14 at 7:00PM EDT).
- Greenwald, "Fighting Israeli Occupying Forces Is 'Terrorism.' Boycotting Is 'Anti-Semitism.' What’s Allowed?", Intercept (4/3/16 at 7:37 a.m.).
- Levick, Adam, "Glenn Greenwald’s Anti-Semitism Exposed", The Algemeiner (7/11/13 at 6:48 AM).
- Greenwald, "TNR's ugly and reckless anti-semitism games", AlterNet.