Glenn Edward Greenwald (born on 6 March 1967) is an American political journalist, lawyer, columnist, blogger and author, best known for his role in a series of reports published by The Guardian newspaper beginning in June 2013, detailing the United States and British global surveillance programs, and based on classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden. Greenwald and the team he worked with won both a George Polk Award and a Pulitzer Prize for those reports.
- The national religion in the United States is worship of all things military. And journalists are its high priests.
- interview with Democracy Now! (November 14, 2012). Glenn Greenwald: While Petraeus Had Affair with Biographer, Corporate Media Had Affair with Petraeus. Retrieved on 2012-11-15.
- The history of human knowledge is nothing more than the realization that yesterday's pieties are actually shameful errors.
- The NSA and GCHQ … are obsessed with searching out any small little crevice on the planet where some forms of communication may be taking place without them being able to invade it. … They are obsessed with finding ways to invade the systems of online, onboard internet services and mobile phone services, because the very idea that human beings can communicate even for a few moments without them being able to collect and store and analyze and monitor what it is that we're saying is simply intolerable.
- The corporate press’ “myths” include “that Edward Snowden is a Russian spy,” Greenwald noted. “While he was in Hong Kong . . . what was being said with the same authoritative tone: ‘It’s very obvious: Edward Snowden is a Chinese spy.’ When he ended up being trapped in Moscow, the very same people who’d said that, their accusations instantly morphed into, ‘Of course, he’s a Russian spy,' without any acknowledgement they’d been saying something profoundly different just weeks earlier."
...This character assassination includes the allegation that Snowden’s motive for leaking NSA classified information is due to his being “a narcissist”—although after initially coming forward Snowden turned down numerous interview requests from top media outlets, which, Greenwald quipped, is a strange way for someone craving attention to behave... He also defended Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, whom he said had been smeared in the press for blowing the whistle... Maligning dissidents as deviant or mentally ill is a technique repressive regimes use to marginalize dissenters, Greenwald said, the rationale being that only crazy people would resist the status quo, while normal, well-adjusted people support it. He added that those reporters who are professional flatterers of the powers-that-be can’t understand someone acting and taking risks due to “conscience” because they are cowards minus consciences.
- Glenn Greenwald Speaks Out, PR Watch (20 June 2014)
- The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious — and Wholly Justified — Felonies.
- Article title, The Intercept, (14 February 2017).
- Those who reveal information the law makes it a crime to reveal, when doing so is the only way to demonstrate to the public that powerful officials are acting wrongfully or deceitfully.
- "The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious — and Wholly Justified — Felonies," The Intecept, 14 February 2017.
"The sham "terrorism expert" industry: A highly ideological, jingoistic clique masquerades as objective scholars, all to justify US militarism" (16 August 2012)
- Many of the benefits from keeping Terrorism fear levels high are obvious. Private corporations suck up massive amounts of Homeland Security cash as long as that fear persists, while government officials in the National Security and Surveillance State can claim unlimited powers, and operate with unlimited secrecy and no accountability. In sum, the private and public entities that shape government policy and drive political discourse profit far too much in numerous ways to allow rational considerations of the Terror threat.
- There's a very similar and at least equally important (though far less discussed) constituency deeply vested in the perpetuation of this fear. It's the sham industry... "terrorism experts," who have built their careers on fear-mongering... and can stay relevant only if that threat does.
These "terrorism experts" form an incredibly incestuous, mutually admiring little clique in and around Washington. They're employed at think tanks, academic institutions, and media outlets. They can and do have mildly different political ideologies -- some are more Republican, some are more Democratic -- but, as usual for D.C. cliques, ostensible differences in political views are totally inconsequential when placed next to their common group identity and career interest: namely, sustaining the myth of the Grave Threat...
in order to justify their fear-based careers, the relevance of their circle, and their alleged "expertise." Like all adolescent, insular cliques, they defend one another reflexively whenever a fellow member is attacked, closing ranks with astonishing speed and loyalty; they take substantive criticisms very personally as attacks on their "friends," because a criticism of the genre and any member in good standing of this fiefdom is a threat...
- There is no term more potent in our political discourse and legal landscape than "Terrorism." It shuts down every rational thought process and political debate the minute it is uttered. It justifies torture (we have to get information from the Terrorists); due-process-free-assassinations even of our own citizens (Obama has to kill the Terrorists); and rampant secrecy (the Government can't disclose what it's doing or have courts rule on its legality because the Terrorists will learn of it), and it sends people to prison for decades (material supporters of Terrorism).
"New press freedom group is launched to block US government attacks" (17 December 2012)
- Nothing is more vital than enabling true transparency and adversarial journalism, and preventing further assaults on them.
- Several weeks ago, I wrote about the steps taken by the US government to pressure large corporations to choke off the finances and other means of support for WikiLeaks in retaliation for the group's exposure of substantial government deceit, wrongdoing and illegality. Because WikiLeaks has never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime, I wrote: "that the US government largely succeeded in using extra-legal and extra-judicial means to cripple an adverse journalistic outlet is a truly consequential episode."
- I disclosed that I had been involved in discussions "regarding the formation of a new organization designed to support independent journalists and groups such as WikiLeaks under attack by the US and other governments."... Its name is Freedom of the Press Foundation...The primary impetus for the formation of this group was to block the US government from ever again being able to attack and suffocate an independent journalistic enterprise the way it did with WikiLeaks. Government pressure and the eager compliance of large financial corporations (such as Visa, Master Card, Bank of America, etc.) has - by design - made it extremely difficult for anyone to donate to WikiLeaks, while many people are simply afraid to directly support the group (for reasons I explained here).
No Place to Hide (2014)
- No matter the specific techniques involved, historically mass surveillance has had several constant attributes. [...] A citizenry that is aware of always being watched quickly becomes a compliant and fearful one.
- Picador 2015 edition ISBN 9781250062581, p. 3
- Over the pasty decades, the fear of terrorism—stoked by consistent exaggerations of the actual threat—has been exploited by US leaders to justify a weird array of extremist policies.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 5
- To permit surveillance to take root on the Internet would mean subjecting virtually all forms of human interaction, planning, and even thought itself to comprehensive state examination.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 6
- Secrecy is the linchpin of abuse of power, we discovered, its enabling force. Transparency is the only antidote.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 12
- "But when it became clear that Obama was not just continuing, but in many cases expanding these abuses", he said. "I realized then that I couldn't wait for a leader to fix these things. Leadership is about acting first and serving as an example for others, not waiting for others to act."
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 43
- [The first article about NSA surveillance] "It's everywhere," Snowden said, clearly excited. "I watched all your interviews. Everyone seemed to get it."
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 72
- History leaved no doubt that collective coercion and control is both the intent and effect of state surveillance.
- Penguin Books 2015 edition, page 78.
- Through a carefully cultivated display of intimidation to anyone who contemplated a meaningful challenge, the [United States] government had striven to show people around the world that its power was constrained by neither law nor ethics, neither morality nor the Constitution: look what we can do and will do to those who impede our agenda.
- Penguin Books 2015 edition ISBN 978-0-241-97289-2, pages 83-84.
- Some of the surveillance was ostensibly devoted to terrorism suspects. But great quantities of the programs manifestly had nothing to do with national security. The documents left no doubt that the NSA was equally involved in economic espionage, diplomatic spying, and suspicionless surveillance aimed at entire populations. Taken in its entirety, the Snowden archive led to an ultimately simple conclusion: the US government had built a system that has as its goal the complete elimination of electronic privacy worldwide. Far from hyperbole, that is the literal, explicitly stated aim of the surveillance state: to collect, store, monitor, and analyze all electronic communication by all people around the globe.
- Penguin Books 2015 edition, page 94.
- Thus, for all the government's denials, the NSA has no substantial constraints on whom it can spy and how. [...] The NSA is the definitive rogue agency: empowered to do whatever it wants with very little control, transparency, or accountability.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 131
- More remarkable is the fact that in country after country, revelations that the NSA was spying on hundreds of millions of their citizens produced little more than muted objections from their political leadership. True indignation came gushing forward only once those leaders understood that they, and not just their citizens, had been targeted as well.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 141
- But while American companies were being warned away from supposedly untrustworthy Chinese routers [by Huawei], foreign organizations would have been well advised to beware of American-made ones.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 148
- Companies like Booz Allen Hamilton and AT&T employ hordes of former top government officials, while hordes of current top defense officials are past (and likely future) employees of those same corporations. Constantly growing the surveillance state is a way to ensure that the government funds keep flowing, that the revolving door stays greased.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 168
- Mass surveillance by the state is therefore inherently repressive, even in the unlikely case that it is not abused. [...] In Discipline and Punish, Foucault further explained that ubiquitous surveillance not only empowers authorities and compel compliance but also induces individuals to internalize their watchers. [...] Merely organizing movements of dissent becomes difficult when the government is watching everything people are doing.
- Picador 2015 edition, pp. 174-7
- An essential deceit: that dissent from institutional authority involves a moral or ideological choice, while obedience does not. With that false premise in place, society pays great attention to the motives of dissenters, but none to those who submit to our institutions. [...] The only leaks that Washington media condemns are those that contain information officials would prefer to hide.
- Picador 2015 edition, pp. 228-9
- Nobody needed the US Constitution to guarantee press freedom so that journalists could befriend, amplify and glorify political leaders; the guarantee was necessary so that journalists could do the opposite.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 230
- Bush DOJ lawyer Jack Goldsmith hailed what he called "an underappreciated phenomenon: the patriotism of the American press". [...] The revolvind door moves the media figures into high-level Washington jobs, jut as government officials often leave office to the reward of a lucrative media contract.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 234-5
- Today, for many in the profession, praise from the government for "responsible" reporting—for taking its direction about what should and should not be published—is a badge of honor. That this is the case is the true measure of how far adversarial journalism in the United States has fallen.
- Picador 2015 edition, p. 247
- What is lost when the private realm is abolished are many of the attributes typically associated with quality of life. Most people have experienced how privacy enables liberation from constraint. And we’ve all, conversely, had the experience of engaging in private behavior when we thought we were alone – dancing, confessing, exploring sexual expression, sharing untested ideas – only to feel shame at having been seen by others.
- Penguin Books 2015 edition, pages 173-174.
- Forgoing privacy in a quest for absolute safety is as harmful to a healthy psyche and life of an individual as it is to a healthy political culture. For the individual, safety first means a life of paralysis and fear, never entering a car or airplane, never engaging in an activity that entails risk, never weighing quality of life over quantity, and paying any price to avoid danger. [...] A population, a country that venerates physical safety above all other values will ultimately give up its liberty and sanction any power seized by authority in exchange for the promise, no matter how illusory, of total security. However, absolute safety is itself chimeric, pursued but never obtained. The pursuit degrades those who engage in it as well as any nation that comes to be defined by it.
- Penguin Books 2015 edition, page 208.
- Democracy requires accountability and consent of the governed, which is only possible if citizens know what is being done in their name. [...] Conversely, the presumption is that the government, with rare exceptions, will not know anything that law-abiding citizens are doing. [...] Transparency is for those who carry out public duties and exercise public power. Privacy is for everyone else.
- Penguin Books 2015 edition, page 209.
- Even the most committed activists are often tempted to succumb to defeatism The prevailing institutions seem too powerful to challenge; orthodoxies feel to entrenched to uproot; there are always many parties with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. But it is human beings collectively, not a small number of elites working in secret, who can decide what kind of world we want to live in. Promoting the human capacity to reason and make decisions: that is the purpose of whistleblowing, of activism, of political [[journalism]. And that's what is happening now, thanks to the revelations brought about by Edward Snowden.
"Trump’s Support and Praise of Despots Is Central to the U.S. Tradition, Not a Deviation From It" (May 2, 2017)
- "Trump’s Support and Praise of Despots Is Central to the U.S. Tradition, Not a Deviation From It" (May 2, 2017), The Intercept.
- Imposing or propping up dictators subservient to the U.S. has long been, and continues to be, the preferred means for U.S. policymakers to ensure that those inconvenient popular beliefs are suppressed. None of this is remotely controversial or even debatable. U.S. support for tyrants has largely been conducted out in the open, and has been expressly defended and affirmed for decades by the most mainstream and influential U.S. policy experts and media outlets.
- The foreign policy guru most beloved and respected in Washington, Henry Kissinger, built his career on embracing and propping up the most savage tyrants because of their obeisance to U.S. objectives. Among the statesman’s highlights, as Greg Grandin documented, he "pumped up Pakistan’s ISI, and encouraged it to use political Islam to destabilize Afghanistan"; "began the U.S.’s arms-for-petrodollars dependency with Saudi Arabia and pre-revolutionary Iran"; and "supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America." Kissinger congratulated Argentina’s military junta for its mass killings and aggressively enabled the genocide carried out by one of the 20th century’s worst monsters, the Indonesian dictator and close U.S. ally Suharto.
- In sum, the post-World War II foreign policy of the U.S. — independent of its massive human rights violations committed over and over around the world — has been predicated on overthrowing democratically elected governments and, even more so, supporting, aligning with, and propping up brutal dictators. This policy has been applied all over the world, on multiple continents and by every administration. It is impossible to understand even the most basic aspects of the U.S. role in the world without knowing that.
"The FBI’s Hunt for Two Missing Piglets Reveals the Federal Cover-Up of Barbaric Factory Farms" (October 5, 2017)
- "The FBI’s Hunt for Two Missing Piglets Reveals the Federal Cover-Up of Barbaric Factory Farms" (October 5, 2017), The Intercept.
- One of the odd aspects of animal mistreatment in the U.S. is that species regarded as more intelligent and emotionally complex — dogs, dolphins, cats, primates — generally receive more public concern and more legal protection. Yet pigs – among the planet’s most intelligent, social, and emotionally complicated species, capable of great joy, play, love, connection, suffering and pain, at least on a par with dogs — receive almost no protections, and are subject to savage systematic abuse by U.S. factory farms.
- In sum, with industry insiders dominating the sole agency (USDA) with the authority to regulate factory farms, animals that are captive, abused, tortured, and slaughtered en masse have little chance, even when it comes to just applying existing laws with a minimal amount of diligence. The politics of the U.S. — including the fact that a key farm state, Iowa, plays such a central role in presidential elections — means there are massive forces arrayed behind factory farms, and very few in support of animal welfare.
- In general, the core moral and philosophical question at the heart of animal rights activism is now being seriously debated: Namely, what gives humans the right or justification to abuse, exploit, and torture non-human species? If there comes a day when some other species (broadly defined) — such as machines — surpass humans in intellect and cognitive complexity, will they have a valid moral claim to treat humans as commodities whose suffering and death can be assigned no value? The irreconcilable contradiction of lavishing love and protection on dogs and cats, while torturing and slaughtering farm animals capable of a deep emotional life and great suffering, is becoming increasingly apparent.
- There is a temptation to turn away from and ignore this mass suffering and cruelty because it’s so painful to confront, so much more pleasant to remain unaware of it. Animal rights activists are determined to prevent us from doing so, and we should all feel gratitude for their increasing success in making us see what we are enabling when we consume the products of this barbaric and sociopathic industry.
"The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a “National Security Threat” is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic" (14 January 2019)
- "The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a “National Security Threat” is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic" (14 January 2019), The Intercept.
- Last week, the New York Times reported that the FBI, in 2017, launched an investigation of President Trump “to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security” and specifically “whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” ...As usual – this melodrama was accomplished by steadfastly ignoring the now-standard, always-buried paragraph pointing out the boring fact that no actual evidence of guilt has yet emerged.
- The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump is far from the first time that the FBI has monitored, surveilled and investigated U.S. elected officials.... It is not difficult to understand what is so ominous and even tyrannical about the FBI investigating domestic political figures whose loyalties they regard as “suspicious,” and whose political career they regard as a “national security threat,” simply because those politicians express policy positions about U.S. adversaries that the FBI dislikes... If a politician adopts policy views... which is unduly accommodating to America’s adversaries or “enemies,” that’s not a crime and the FBI thus has no business using its vast investigative powers against...[them]
- Obviously, if there is reason to suspect that actual crimes have been committed... then it’s not just permissible but vital that the FBI investigate such allegations... But the FBI investigation... clearly based, at least in part, on the FBI’s disagreements with Trump’s foreign policy views and the agency’s assessment that such policies fail to safeguard “U.S. interests” as the FBI defines them. The NYT notes that among the events that prompted the investigation were that Trump “refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail...”
"MSNBC Yet Again Broadcasts Blatant Lies, This Time About Bernie Sanders’s Opening Speech, and Refuses to Correct Them" (3 March 2019)
- MSNBC IS A dishonest political operation, not a news outlet. It systematically and deliberately refuses to adopt a defining attribute of a news outlet: a willingness to acknowledge factual errors, correct them, and apologize. That they not only allow their lies to stand uncorrected but reward their employees who do it most frequently — especially when those lies are directed at adversaries of the Democratic Party — proves that they are, first and foremost, a political arm of the Democratic establishment.
- The most recent example is as glaring as it is malicious. On Saturday in Brooklyn, Bernie Sanders delivered his first speech for his 2020 presidential campaign in front of thousands of people. MSNBC broadcast the speech live, and anyone can watch the full two-hour event, or just Sanders’s full 35-minute speech, on YouTube. As a result, there’s no confusion possible about what was said. Everyone can see it with their own eyes.
- Indeed, as is almost always true for MSNBC, all of these pleas that they correct their false claim have been steadfastly ignored — no correction issued — because, as I’ve repeatedly documented, lying about adversaries of the Democratic establishment is not merely tolerated or permitted at MSNBC, but is encouraged and rewarded. That’s why they purposely had the very first person to comment on Sanders’s kickoff campaign speech be a paid Clinton 2016 campaign official highly embittered toward Sanders, and it’s why MSNBC does not correct lies no matter how loudly, clearly, or indisputably you document those lies to them.
- News outlets correct lies. Slimy political operations deliberately use lies to advance their agenda and smear their adversaries. MSNBC has proven over and over again that they are decisively in the latter category. This is just the latest but by no means the only or even worst example.
"NYT’s Exposé on the Lies About Burning Aid Trucks in Venezuela Shows How U.S. Government and Media Spread Pro-War Propaganda" (10 March 2019)
- Every major U.S. war of the last several decades has begun the same way: the U.S. government fabricates an inflammatory, emotionally provocative lie which large U.S. media outlets uncritically treat as truth while refusing at air questioning or dissent, thus inflaming primal anger against the country the U.S. wants to attack... This was exactly the tactic used on February 23, when the narrative shifted radically in favor of those U.S. officials who want regime change operations in Venezuela... they vehemently stated that the trucks were set on fire, on purpose, by President Nicolas Maduro’s forces.
- On Saturday night, the New York Times published a detailed video and accompanying article proving that this entire story was a lie. The humanitarian trucks were not set on fire by Maduro’s forces. They were set on fire by anti-Maduro protesters who threw a molotov cocktail that hit one of the trucks. And the NYT’s video traces how the lie spread: from U.S. officials who baselessly announced that Maduro burned them to media outlets that mindlessly repeated the lie...
- Other media outlets endorsed the lie while at least avoiding what CNN did by personally vouching for it. “Humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela was set on fire, seemingly by troops loyal to Mr Maduro,” The Telegraph claimed. The BBC uncritically printed: “There have also been reports of several aid trucks being burned – something Mr Guaidó said was a violation of the Geneva Convention.”
- That lie – supported by incredibly powerful video images – changed everything. Ever since, that Maduro burned trucks filled with humanitarian aid was repeated over and over as proven fact on U.S. news outlets. Immediately after it was claimed, politicians...U.S. news stars and think tank luminaries...took a leading role in beating the war drums...
- Everything the New York Times so proudly reported last night has been known for weeks, and was already reported in great detail, using extensive evidence, by a large number of people...
- While the NYT’s article and video are perfectly good and necessary journalism, the credit they are implicitly claiming for themselves for exposing this lie is totally undeserved.
- That’s because the U.S. media, by design, does not permit dissent on U.S. foreign policy, particularly when it comes to false claims about U.S. adversaries. That’s why skeptics of U.S. regime change in Venezuela, or dissenters on the prevailing orthodoxies about Russia, have largely been disappeared from mainstream media outlets...
"The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling" (28 August 2020)
- In a remotely healthy society, one that provides basic emotional needs to its population, suicide and serious suicidal ideation are rare events. It is anathema to the most basic human instinct: the will to live. A society in which such a vast swath of the population is seriously considering it as an option is one which is anything but healthy, one which is plainly failing to provide its citizens the basic necessities for a fulfilling life.
- But what makes these trends all the more disturbing is that they long predated the arrival of the coronavirus crisis, to say nothing of the economic catastrophe left in its wake and the social unrest from this year’s protest movement. Indeed, since at least the financial crisis of 2008, when first the Bush administration and then the Obama administration acted to protect the interests of the tycoons who caused it while allowing everyone else to wallow in debt and foreclosures, the indicia of collective mental health in the U.S. have been blinking red.
Quotes about Greenwald
- When the journalist Glenn Greenwald attacked me as an Islamophobe, insisting that my concerns about Islam were both irrational and a symptom of my own bigotry and white privilege, I responded by challenging him on Twitter to a duel of cartoon contests. He could hold one for Islam, and I would hold one for any other religion on earth. That shut him up immediately.
- Ever since [Greenwald] blotted his copybook backing Iraq, he’s played the principled non-interventionist with all the irritating simple-mindedness of a reformed drunk. His new view, nice and simple, is that all intervention is bad, everywhere and every time. So when [Greenwald] hears that the French Army has intervened in Mali, his first-generation moral software picks up the word “intervention” and does the rest, a nice simple Jetsons way of dealing with a wiggly, complicated world. Intervention = Bad; Mali = Intervention; therefore Mali = bad. … What blew me away was the simple-mindedness of it. It was pretty clear that [Greenwald] didn’t know a thing about Mali and, what pissed me off more, he didn’t think he had any reason to learn. That’s one thing he has in common with the Jihadis (and the Baptists too): they all think there’s one right way, and can’t be bothered with local variations. Local schmocal, that’s how you think when you’ve got 'The Truth' on your side.