Born on March 6, 1967 in New York City, Glenn Greenwald completed his undergraduate studies at George Washington University in 1990 and earned a J.D. from New York University Law School in 1994. He then took a job with the New York law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz before establishing his own firm—Greenwald, Christoph and Holland—in 1996. Early in his legal career, Greenwald represented white supremacist Matthew Hale in a number of civil cases; Hale would later (in 2005) be found guilty of soliciting an undercover FBI informant to murder U.S. district court judge Joan Lefkow.
In 2005 Greenwald became active as a writer specializing in issues related to national security, terrorism, and individual liberty. In October of that year, he began writing a blog titled “Unclaimed Territory,” which at first focused heavily on the Justice Department’s investigation of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, but then shifted its attention (in 2006) chiefly to the controversy over the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance of international telephone calls. Vis à vis the latter issue, Greenwald (in a 2006 blog post) condemned as unconstitutional the Bush administration’s policy of permitting the NSA to intercept (without a court warrant) international phone conversations involving U.S. residents—provided that at least one party to each call was situated overseas, and that the American was a known contact of a terrorist organization.
Greenwald’s coverage of this issue gained national attention, and he was often cited in news accounts about it. In March 2006, Democrat Senator Russ Feingold quoted Greenwald from the floor of the U.S. Senate while introducing Resolution 398, a motion to censure President Bush for allegations of illegal wiretapping.
Greenwald continued to explore the NSA surveillance controversy in his first book, How Would A Patriot Act? Defending American Values From A President Run Amok, published in 2006 by Working Assets. In this book, Greenwald writes that during the Bush presidency “a creeping extremism has taken hold of our federal government, and it is threatening to radically alter our system of government and who we are as a nation”; that “this extremism is neither conservative nor liberal in nature, but is instead driven by theories of unlimited presidential power that are wholly alien, and antithetical, to the core political values that have governed this country since its founding”; and that “this seizure of ever-expanding presidential power is largely justified through endless, rank fear-mongering—fear of terrorists, specifically….”
In February 2007 Greenwald became a contributing writer at the liberal online magazine Salon, where, in his columns and blogs, he continued to censure the Bush administration and complain about media bias.
Also in 2007, Greenwald published A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency. In this book, Greenwald depicts George W. Bush as an unintelligent man driven by a warped moral code. Consider, for example, the author’s analysis of Bush’s dealings with Iran:
“The simplistic and moralistic Bush mind-set—by which even the most vexing problems and complex conflicts are reduced to a contest of ‘strength’ in the face of Evil—can perhaps be seen most clearly in the president’s treatment of Iran.… Bush’s perspective amounts to this: Iran is governed by Evil leaders. They are the moral and practical equivalent of Hitler’s Nazis. They are intent on regional, perhaps even world, domination. They are so insane and so Evil that they will attack other countries with nuclear weapons even if it means that they would then be annihilated.”
In 2008, Greenwald, who frequently complains about “corporate control over the content” of American media, charged that U.S. news outlets were biased in favor of political conservatives—and that those outlets consequently failed to cover many news stories with the potential to cast conservatives and their policies in a negative light. In an interview with Harper’s magazine in February 2008, Greenwald said:
“The media should be an adversarial force to the political establishment, that’s basic journalism. But in the last few decades they have become dependent on the political establishment and assimilated into it, so the media is an arm of the political establishment as opposed to a watchdog over it. That dynamic has corrupted the process more than anything else, because there’s no tension between the media and political power. During recent years, the political establishment has been primarily Republican and the media gets fed mostly by Republican operatives—that’s where reporters get their access and their scoops and the feeling that they are insiders—and that’s where the loyalty of most of the establishment press therefore lies: with Republican power.”
In April 2008 Greenwald released his third book, Great American Hypocrites, which examined “the manipulative electoral tactics used by the GOP and propagated by the establishment press.” The “right-wing noise machine,” wrote Greenwald, uses tactics that “drown out both reality and consideration of actual issues, thus ensuring that elections are decided based on manipulative cultural, psychological, and gender-exploiting marketing imagery.”
In August 2008, Greenwald turned his attention to the case of Bruce Ivins, the biodefense researcher who committed suicide upon learning that charges were being filed against him for his alleged connection to the 2001 anthrax attacks. In a long series of blogs, Greenwald suggested that the U.S. government had been complicit in a plot to cover up the truth behind those events, and he called for “a full-scale Congressional hearing or even an external Commission of the type that investigated the 9/11 attacks—endowed with full subpoena power—to examine all of the unresolved issues …”
Also in 2008, Greenwald became an organizer for Blue America, a political action committee dedicated to campaigning against centrist Democrats and replacing them with leftists. Chief among Blue America’s targets for ouster was Democratic Representative Chris Carney of Pennsylvania. Angered by Carney’s support of President Bush’s domestic-surveillance policies, Greenwald said: “Our goal is to attach a real price to the type of things Chris Carney is doing. If that means he ends up losing, then so be it. I would rather see a smaller [Democratic] majority but fewer Blue Dogs [centrist Democrats], than a big majority with the Blue Dogs in charge.”
That same year, Greenwald and liberal blogger/film producer Jane Hamsher co-founded the Accountability Now political action committee (PAC), which similarly aimed to show centrist Democrats that “there is a real price to pay for continuing to support the prevailing agenda of the rotting Beltway class.” This PAC grew out of a coalition of far-left and socialist groups, including MoveOn, the SEIU, Daily Kos, Democracy for America, and Color of Change. Although Accountability Now created what Greenwald appropriately called “the Strange Bedfellows coalition” and an “alliance of ideologically diverse factions,” the New York Times described the group as focused on moving the Democratic Party “further to the left.”
In 2009, the Park Center for Independent Media presented both Greenwald and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman with its first annual Izzy Awards, named after the journalist (and Soviet spy) I. F. Stone. These awards are intended to honor “special achievement in independent media,” particularly “contributions to our culture, politics, or journalism created outside traditional corporate structures.”
In July 2011, Greenwald spoke for the first time at the annual Socialism Conference (in Chicago) of the International Socialist Organization, whose major publication, The Socialist Worker, proudly declares: “We stand in the Marxist tradition, founded by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and continued by V.I. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Leon Trotsky.” At this 2011 event, Greenwald delivered a keynote address titled “Civil liberties under Obama,” wherein he:
In 2012, Greenwald spoke for a second time at an International Socialist Organization’s annual conference in Chicago, where he stated that the word “terrorism” has been so frequently misused for “completely manipulative” purposes, that it now has “zero meaning.” “And so this concept of material support for terrorism,” Greenwald expanded, “meaning anything you do that helps terrorists, is even more subject to manipulation and abuse.” He then proceeded to note that: “[W]e have organizations on the [official terrorism] list that are not even remotely a threat to the United States, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which, whatever you think of them, are not in any way devoted to harming Americans. They are devoted to protecting their citizens against the state of Israel. And yet it is criminal in the United States to do anything that is deemed to be support for Hezbollah and Hamas.”
During the last weekend of June 2013, Greenwald spoke at his third International Socialist Organization annual conference, where he stated, with “certainty,” that “no event assembles more passionate activism, genuine expertise, and provocative insights than the Socialism Conference.” Moreover, Greenwald marveled at “how invigorating and inspiring it is to be in the midst of such diverse and impressive activists.” Many of the sessions at the 2013 Conference promoted Marxism, disparaged capitalism, condemned American imperialism and racism, and accused Israel of abusing the Palestinian people.
In October 2011, Greenwald released his fourth book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.
That same month, Greenwald offered his assessment of why the Occupy Wall Street movement had so quickly gained such widespread acclaim and influence. He noted, for instance, that “severe income and wealth inequality have long plagued the United States” and, in fact, had “worsened over the past several years” to the “highest level since the Great Depression.” He then deprecated former President Ronald Reagan’s assertion that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” as merely an alternative way of saying that “it is in your interest when the rich get richer.” “Implicit in this [Reagan] framework,” wrote Greenwald, was “the core propagandistic premise” that “the rich were rich because they deserved to be”—as a result of their innovation, risk-taking, and job creation. Greenwald then addressed the psychological phenomenon that, in his view, had helped propel the Occupy movement to prominence:
“It’s not that Americans suddenly woke up one day and decided that substantial income and wealth inequality are themselves unfair or intolerable. What changed was the perception of how that wealth was gotten and so of the ensuing inequality as legitimate. Many Americans who once accepted or even cheered such inequality now see the gains of the richest as ill-gotten, as undeserved, as cheating…. That catches the mood of America in 2011. It may not explain the Occupy Wall Street movement, but it helps explain why it has spread like wildfire and why so many Americans seem instantly to accept and support it. As was not true in recent decades, the American relationship with wealth inequality is in a state of rapid transformation.”
Greenwald complains that “the wealthiest in our society are permitted to prosper without constraints,” and charges that when the rich get richer ”nothing trickles down,” and “inequality starts to explode.” He believes, moreover, that the wealthy use their considerable political influence “to ensure that the system doesn’t work to create equal opportunity, but works only to entrench and shield their own ill-gotten gains.”
By Greenwald’s reckoning, poor people and average Americans rarely obtain justice in the courts. “The criminal justice system is now almost exclusively reserved for ordinary Americans, who are routinely subjected to harsh punishments even for the pettiest of offenses,” he writes. Describing the U.S. as “the world’s largest and most merciless prison state for its poorest and most powerless citizens,” Greenwald adds that America “has an entrenched two-tiered system of justice: the country’s most powerful political and financial elites are virtually immunized from the rule of law, empowered to commit felonies with fullscale impunity and to act without any constraints, while the politically powerless are imprisoned with greater ease and in far greater numbers than in any other country on the planet.” The law itself is unjust, according to Greenwald, because it “perpetuates and even generates tremendous social inequality.”
In December 2011, Greenwald wrote a passionate defense of former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who would soon be tried for the role he had played in providing large amounts of illegally obtained, classified data about the U.S. government to Wikileaks. “Though it is Manning who is nominally on trial,” wrote Greenwald, “these [court] proceedings reveal the U.S. government’s fixation with extreme secrecy, covering up its own crimes, and intimidating future whistleblowers.” Asserting, further, that “U.S. claims about the damage done [by the release of the Wikileaks cables] have been wildly exaggerated, even outright false,” Greenwald claimed that “the leaks Manning allegedly engineered have generated enormous benefits” by providing people with “the truth” they need in order to “make informed decisions as a public.” For example: “By exposing some of the worst atrocities committed by U.S. forces in Iraq, the documents prevented the Iraqi government from agreeing to ongoing legal immunity for U.S. forces, and thus helped bring about the end of the war.” “For what he is alleged to have given the world,” Greenwald summarized, “Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.”
In the summer of 2012, Greenwald left Salon and became a columnist for the U.S. edition of The Guardian, the British-based newspaper and website.
Greenwald believes that claims about the inevitable bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security are merely part of a hoax perpetrated by conservatives who seek to hurt the poor. In an October 2012 column about the most recent debate between vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, Greenwald wrote: “This claim lies at the heart of the right-wing and neo-liberal quest to slash entitlement benefits for ordinary Americans. [Congressman Paul] Ryan predictably responded by saying: ‘Absolutely. Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.’ But the claim is baseless.” According to Greenwald, the suggestion that Medicare and Social Security are in deep financial trouble is a “demonstrable myth being used by the DC class—which largely does not need entitlements—to deceive ordinary Americans into believing that they must ‘sacrifice’ the pittances on which they are now living.”
In June 2013, Greenwald received immense publicity after he published, in The Guardian, the first of a series of reports detailing the secret activities of American and British global surveillance programs. The information contained in those reports was based on classified documents that had recently been disclosed to Greenwald by computer specialist Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. On July 13, 2013, Greenwald reported that Snowden had innumerable documents about U.S. spy programs hidden away in different parts of the world, and that all of them would be highly damaging to the United States. Further, said Greenwald in a newspaper interview: “Snowden has enough [sic] information to cause harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had. The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare.”
In October 2013, Greenwald announced that he was leaving The Guardian to become a co-founding editor of The Intercept, a new online investigative publication funded by billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and created by Omidyar’s news organization, First Look Media. Greenwald described his new position as a “once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity” that he could not pass up. The Intercept first appeared on the Internet on February 10, 2014.
In November 2013, Greenwald, via video transmission, addressed the 17th annual “Faith in Freedom” banquet sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In his remarks, he praised CAIR for having “stood really firm and steadfast in defense of our basic constitutional protections” in the post-9/11 era, “as they’ve been under continuous assault from numerous directions.” “There really is no group in the United States,” Greenwald emphasized, “that has been more steadfast and fearless, and whose work has been more important … than CAIR” in combating “the kind of demonization that American Muslims are routinely subjected to.” Also speaking at the event was Siraj Wahhaj, who had been designated as a “potential unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
In July 2014, Greenwald and fellow journalist Murtaza Hussain published a major exposé titled “Under Surveillance: Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On,” about five Muslim leaders who were being spied upon by the FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA). The five targets were: (a) Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush; (b) Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases; (c) Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University; (d) Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights; and (e) Nihad Awad, the executive director of CAIR. The thrust of the Greenwald/Hussain report was that none of the targets were guilty of anything other than the sin of opposing U.S. government policies. Below is a brief overview of how the co-authors portrayed each of the five individuals in their document:
(a) In their assessment of Faisal Gill, Greenwald and Hussain wrote:
“After leaving the Navy, Gill worked as a consultant for the American Muslim Council, which was founded by the political activist Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi to encourage participation by American Muslims in the political process. A Republican since high school, Gill joined the Bush Administration in the aftermath of 9/11, eventually moving to the White House Office of Homeland Security, where he briefly worked with Richard Clarke and obtained a top-secret security clearance. After roughly a year, he joined the Department of Homeland Security as a senior policy adviser, where he was cleared to access sensitive compartmented information, a classification level reserved for some of the nation’s most closely held secrets.
“In 2003, al-Amoudi was arrested for participating in a Libyan plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and for illegal financial transactions with the Libyan government, crimes for which he eventually pleaded guilty. Because Gill’s name had turned up in al-Amoudi’s papers, he was investigated by DHS security officials and asked not to report to work pending the outcome. He told investigators that he had met al-Amoudi only three or four times and didn’t work closely with him during his time at the American Muslim Council. After passing a polygraph test, Gill says, he was told by DHS that he was ‘good to go’ and returned to work.”
But the authors omitted the fact that the plot to assassinate Prince Abdullah involved two U.K.-based al Qaeda operatives, and that al-Amoudi ultimately pled guilty to, and was convicted of, being a senior al Qaeda financier who had funneled at least $1 million into the coffers of that terrorist organization.
(b) In their assessment of Asim Ghafoor, Greenwald and Hussain wrote:
“In 2003, the Al Haramain Islamic Foundation, a Saudi charity, hired Ghafoor after its U.S. assets were frozen by the Treasury Department over claims that it funded terrorist operations. The government alleged that there were ‘direct links’ between the U.S. branch of the charity and Osama bin Laden. Al Haramain had previously been represented by some of the biggest and most prestigious American law firms, including the D.C. powerhouse Akin Gump. Ghafoor’s work with Al Haramain led him to other controversial clients, including Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden who was the subject of FBI and CIA surveillance for years, as well as the government of Sudan.”
As Islam expert Robert Spencer writes: “This would seem to be enough in itself to keep Ghafoor under surveillance, in case one of his jihad terrorist clients gave out information that could stop a jihad terror attack. But there is more. Asim Ghafoor was a political consultant, spokesman, and public relations director for the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), which the U.S. government shut down in December 2001 because of the organization’s ties to terrorism…. GRF is not the only organization with ties to terrorism with which Ghafoor has been involved. While he was with GRF, Ghafoor was also the spokesman for Care International. The December 6, 2002 Wall Street Journal reports: ‘Records indicate close ties between [Care International] and the Boston branch of Al Kifah Refugee Center, the Brooklyn branch of which was named by prosecutors as the locus of the 1993 conspiracy to bomb the World Trade Center. Greenwald and Hussain don’t mention any of that.”
(c) In their assessment of Hooshang Amirahmadi, Greenwald and Hussain noted that he “does not self-identify as a Muslim and describes himself as an atheist.” Thus, Amirahmadi did not even belong in a report titled “Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On.”
(d) In their assessment of Agha Saeed, Greenwald and Hussain wrote:
“The only notable public controversy involving Saeed occurred in 2000, two days after the American Muslim Alliance [which was founder by Saeed] announced its endorsement of Bush. The New York Daily News attempted to demonize a $50,000 donation the group made to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign by highlighting Saeed’s support for the right of Palestinians to armed resistance against occupation if peaceful means fail—a right affirmed in a series of resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly. Yielding to pressure, Clinton quickly condemned the remarks and announced that she was returning the donation. Her GOP opponent, Rick Lazio, attacked her for receiving ‘blood money’ and criticized her and her husband for having invited Muslim-Americans who opposed the Middle East peace process to the White House.”
As Islam expert Robert Spencer writes: “The groups that pursue ‘armed resistance against occupation’ are jihad terror groups such as Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamic Jihad. Saeed supports this ‘armed resistance,’ so he may be in contact with some of the leaders or members of such groups, and surveillance could reveal something that could be used to stop their jihad terror attacks against civilians. So here again, surveillance is warranted.”
(e) In their assessment of CAIR executive director Nihad Awad, Greenwald and Hussain wrote:
“’I’m outraged as an American citizen that my government, after decades of civil rights struggle, still spies on political activists and civil right activists and leaders,’ says Awad. ‘I’m really angry that despite all the work that we have been doing in our communities to serve the nation, we are treated with suspicion.’
“The bulk of CAIR’s work is devoted to protecting the civil liberties of Muslim-Americans. The group frequently provides legal counsel to those who believe their rights have been infringed, and litigates constitutional challenges to state and federal laws. Awad says he is particularly incensed about the surveillance given the close cooperation that CAIR has provided the U.S. government in denouncing violent extremism. ‘The government knows very well that I am not a foreign agent,’ he says.
“Despite its political moderation and relationship to federal law enforcement agencies, CAIR became a primary target of hardline neoconservatives after 9/11. In 2007, the Justice Department named the group as one of more than 300 “unindicted co-conspirators” in its controversial prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, then the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., which was eventually convicted of providing material support to Hamas. The Justice Department later attempted to justify its inclusion of CAIR by referring to wiretap evidence showing that in 1993, a Palestinian advocacy group that prosecutors believed was linked to Hamas met in a Philadelphia hotel and talked about founding CAIR. In 1994, Awad voiced public support for Hamas—before the group’s campaign of suicide attacks against civilians and subsequent placement on the State Department’s terrorist list in 1997.
“’I do not support Hamas,’ Awad says today, pointing out that the group was not involved in terrorist activities at the time he made the statement. ‘It was not on the list of organizations that sponsor or conduct terrorism by the State Department. And when the organization took those acts, CAIR has condemned it, repeatedly.’”
But even if one accepts the notion that Awad supported Hamas up until 1994 but not after it was placed on the State Department’s terrorist list, the fact remains that the group had already compiled a long list of murderous attacks against Jews prior to 1994. Indeed, on its own website, Hamas listed 85 such attacks that had occurred between 1988 and 1994 as part of its “Glory Record.”
During the first half of 2019, Greenwald and The Intercept spent months publishing leaked transcripts of private text conversations that had taken place between Sergio Moro — Brazil’s Minister of Justice since November 2018 — and investigators who had worked on “Operation Car Wash,” a 2014-19 probe into government corruption at Petrobras, the state-run oil company. Greenwald obtained the transcripts from hackers who had broken into Moro’s account on Telegram, an encrypted messaging service. When Operation Car Wash had first started as an active investigation in 2014, Moro was a judge who played a leading role in overseeing the inquest. Over time, the Operation revealed that dozens of politicians from nearly every active political party in Brazil had accepted kickbacks from private companies in exchange for overpriced government infrastructure contracts. Moro’s role in uncovering this corruption made him a hugely popular national figure and paved the way to his eventual appointment as Minister of Justice.
But Greenwald’s leaks depicted Moro as having been a biased arbiter during his tenure as leader of Operation Car Wash — biased especially against Brazil’s former socialist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who ultimately was sentenced to more than a decade in prison for using illegal kickback money to purchase a luxury beachfront property.
When Brazilian authorities in July 2019 arrested four suspects on charges of having hacked into Moro’s Telegram account, Greenwald adamantly denied any involvement with them.
In January 2020, Brazilian prosecutors charged Greenwald with cybercrimes, claiming that he had advised the hackers to destroy incriminating evidence. But in early February 2020, Brazilian Judge Ricardo Leite dismissed the charges against Greenwald, citing a Supreme Court injunction against prosecuting him for simply practicing journalism.
In December 2018, The Investigative Project on Terrorism issued a 36-page report analyzing Greenwald’s position on an array of topics related to Israel, the Middle East, Islamic terrorism, and American foreign policy. Below are some of the more noteworthy Greenwald quotes cited in the report:
On Islamic Terrorism
• “There have been Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians of course (while far more Palestinian civilians have died at the hands of the Israeli army), but in these specific cases, Palestinians are attacking purely military targets, not civilians. Those military targets are soldiers deployed to their soil as part of an illegal occupying army. In what conceivable sense can that be ‘terrorism’? If fighting an occupying army is now ‘terrorism’ simply because the army belongs to Israel and the attackers are Palestinian, is it not incredibly obvious how this term is exploited?”
• “The US, the UK and its allies have repeatedly killed Muslim civilians over the past decade (and before that), but defenders of those governments insist that this cannot be ‘terrorism’ because it is combatants, not civilians, who are the targets. Can it really be the case that when western nations continuously kill Muslim civilians, that’s not ‘terrorism’, but when Muslims kill western soldiers, that is terrorism?”
• “[M]any… are deeply invested on a psychological and personal level in protecting the narrative that Islam is a uniquely violent force in the world, that Muslim extremists pose a threat that nobody else poses, and that the US, the West and its allies (including Israel) are morally superior and more civilized than their adversaries, and their violence is more noble and elevated.”
• “[T]here’s this assumption … that terrorism is essentially nothing more than crimes committed by Muslims.”
On the Foreign Policy of the U.S. and Its Allies
• “Who has brought more death, and suffering, and tyranny to the world over the last six decades than the U.S. national security state?”
• “As the [Muslim] attackers themselves make as clear as they can, it’s not religious fanaticism but rather political grievance that motivates these attacks. Religious conviction may make them more willing to fight (as it does for many in the west), but the motive is anger over what is being done by the US and its allies to Muslims. Those who claim otherwise are essentially saying: gosh, these Muslims sure do have this strange, primitive, inscrutable religion whereby they seem to get angry when they’re invaded, occupied, bombed, killed, and have dictators externally imposed on them. It’s vital to understand this causal relationship simply in order to prevent patent, tribalistic, self-glorifying falsehoods from taking hold. Second, it’s crucial to understand this causation because it’s often asked ‘what can we do to stop Terrorism?’ The answer is right in front of our faces: we could stop embracing the policies in that part of the world which fuel anti-American hatred and trigger the desire for vengeance and return violence.”
• “A country doesn’t get to run around for years wallowing in war glory, invading, rendering and bombing others, without the risk of having violence brought back to it…. The issue is causation. Every time one of these [Muslim terrorist] attacks occurs — from 9/11 on down — Western governments pretend that it was just some sort of unprovoked, utterly ‘senseless’ act of violence caused by primitive, irrational, savage religious extremism inexplicably aimed at a country innocently minding its own business. They even invent fairy tales to feed to the population to explain why it happens: they hate us for our freedom. Those fairy tales are pure deceit. Except in the rarest of cases, the violence has clearly identifiable and easy-to-understand causes: namely, anger over the violence that the [Western] country’s government has spent years directing at others […] namely, anger over the violence, abuse and interference by Western countries in that [Middle Eastern] part of the world, with the world’s Muslims overwhelmingly the targets and victims. The very policies of militarism and civil liberties erosions justified in the name of stopping terrorism are actually what fuels terrorism and ensures its endless continuation.”
• “U.S. media outlets love to dramatize and endlessly highlight Western victims of violence, while rendering almost completely invisible the victims of their own side’s violence… By endlessly focusing on and dramatizing Western victims of violence while ignoring the victims of the West’s own violence, the impression is continually bolstered that only They, but not We, engage in violence that kills innocent people. We are always the victims and never the perpetrators (and thus Good and Blameless); They are only the perpetrators and never the victims (and thus Villainous and Culpable).”
• “How can you be a citizen of the United States, the country that has generated more violence and militarism in the world over the last five or six decades and say, ‘Look at those people over there. They are incredibly violent.’
We play a significant role in what is happening in the Middle East because we’ve been interfering and dominating that region is order to have access to their oil and protect Israel.”
• “Iran isn’t invading lots of other countries and occupying them for a decade. Nor are fundamentalist Muslim countries like the United States is. These things are interlinked because we’re continuously interfering in that
part of the world.”
• “[T]he more light shined on the fact that U.S. belligerence toward Iran helps only Israel and hurts the U.S., the better.”
• “[N]umerous U.S. political and media figures are vested in the narrative that Iran is an evil threat whose desire for a peaceful resolution must not be trusted (and some hard-line factions in Iran are similarly vested in ongoing conflict)… Iran has been trying to make Americans hear for years that they have no interest in nuclear weapons. Indeed, they have repeatedly made clear that they have not only banned such weapons but favor region-wide nuclear disarmament, including of Israel’s vast nuclear arsenal, which actually exists. It is Israel, not Iran, which has steadfastly refused to allow inspections of its nuclear arsenal (despite UN demands they do so) or to join the NPT or other conventions designed to monitor and regulate nuclear weapons…. The fact that Iran, at its highest leadership levels, has repeatedly and unequivocally disavowed any interest in nuclear weapons is something that most Americans simply don’t know, because the country’s media stars have barely ever mentioned it.”
On Hamas and Hizballah
• “And we have organizations on the [terrorism] list that are not even remotely a threat to the United States, such as Hizbollah and Hamas, which whatever you think of them are not in any way devoted to harming Americans. They are devoted to protecting their citizens against the State of Israel. And yet it is criminal in the United States to do anything that is deemed to be material support for Hizbollah and Hamas.”
On Counter-terrorism Tactics & Islamophobia
• “Over the past decade, US Muslims have been routinely targeted with precisely this same tactic of preemptive or anticipatory prosecution. It’s all designed to take people engaged in political and religious advocacy which the
US government dislikes – usually very young and impressionable Muslims with zero criminal history, though increasingly non-Muslims engaged in other forms of dissent — and use paid informants to trick them into saying just enough to turn them into criminals who are then prosecuted and imprisoned for decades.”
Comparing U.S. Drone Attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Boston Marathon Bombing of April 2013
• “Sure, it’s the responsibility of the U.S. government to prevent its citizens from being killed and attacked in the way that they were attacked in Boston… So that’s the problem, as I see it. Is that the more we react by saying, ‘Well, we now need to go bomb further with drones, we need to infiltrate and surveil more, we need to put Muslims under more of a microscope and be more aggressive in how we attack them when we think they’re a threat,’ I think the worse this problem becomes. I think that’s the problem, is that the policies justified in the name of stopping terrorism have actually done more to exacerbate that threat and to render us unsafe than any other single
• When asked to explain “the distinction between death by [American] drones in a tribal area in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and what the bombers did in Boston,” Greenwald replied: “I don’t think there is much difference. You could certainly say that one difference, and this is what people would typically say to defend what the United States does and to distinguish it, is that we are not deliberately killing civilians while the people in Boston did. And I’m not sure how true that is. There certainly are cases where the United States has very recklessly killed civilians…. And so at some point, when a government engages in behavior year, after year, after year, after year, that continues to kill innocent people in a very foreseeable way, and continues to do that, in my mind that reaches a level of recklessness that is very similar to intentional killing.”
• “[O]ne of the most amazing things to me over the last few years was in the aftermath of our killing of Osama bin Laden, there was all kinds of chanting and marching and celebratory dancing taking place in the street, which was striking to me because, even if you believe that the killing of Osama bin Laden was justifiable, any time you’re killing somebody and dumping their corpse into the ocean, that should be a cause of somber reflection, even if you believe it was necessary. And I think you saw much the same thing in Boston. Again, the chanting and the sense of collective self-esteem and the reverence for military and political and police institutions, I think is very disturbing …”
On Israel, and Criticism of Israel
• “Formal definition[s] of anti-semitism [sic] have been purposely designed, and then abused, to criminalize criticisms of Israel along with advocacy of the boycott movement.”
• “Anyone who becomes too influential & effective in advocating for Palestinian rights & criticizing Israeli aggression is demonized as an anti-Semite. That’s all that’s driving this latest smear of [head of UK Labor Party, Jeremy] Corbyn — that and the attempt to outlaw criticism of Israel.”
• “Israeli citizens have greater liberty to criticize the Israel government than U.S. citizens have to criticize the Israeli government; in other words, criticisms of Israel that are common and mainstream in Israel are banned and punished in the U.S.”
• “[T]he greatest threat to free speech in the west, and the most frequent and common form of censorship on college campuses, is aimed at those who criticize Israel and defend Palestinians, to the point where advocating for the boycott is a criminal offense.”
• “It is a requirement in U.S. discourse about Israel and Palestine that an absolute lie be affirmed: namely, that it’s still possible for a viable ‘two-state solution’ to be created, where Palestine and Israel live side-by-side as
sovereign states. The undeniable reality – that is now widely recognized in both Israel and Palestine, even as it’s forbidden to be acknowledge[d] in mainstream U.S. precincts (CNN) – is that illegal Israeli settlements have grown so rapidly and have eaten up so much Palestinian land in the West Bank that such a solution is now essentially impossible, a fact even the U.N. acknowledges.”
On the Iraq War
• “Those who perpetrate wars of aggression invariably invent moral justifications to allow themselves and the citizens of the aggressor state to feel good and noble about themselves. Hence, even an unprovoked attack which
literally destroys a country and ruins the lives of millions of innocent people — as the U.S. invasion of Iraq did — is scripted as a morality play with the invaders cast in the role of magnanimous heroes. It’s difficult to find an
invasion in history that wasn’t supported by at least some faction of the invaded population and where that same self-justifying script wasn’t used. That’s true even of the most heinous aggressors. Many Czech and Austrian citizens of Germanic descent, viewing themselves as a repressed minority, welcomed Hitler’s invasion of their countries, while leaders of the independence-seeking Sudeten parties in those countries actively conspired to bring it about. Did that make those German invasions justifiable?”
• “Unlike ISIS, the U.S. usually (though not always) tries to suppress (rather than gleefully publish) evidence showing the victims of its violence. Indeed, concealing stories about the victims of American militarism is a critical part of the U.S. government’s strategy for maintaining support for its sustained aggression. That is why, in general, the U.S. media has a policy of systematically excluding and ignoring such victims (although disappearing them
this way does not actually render them nonexistent).”
• “The constant orgy of condemnation aimed at this group seems to have little purpose other than tribal self-affirmation: no matter how many awful acts our government engages in, at least we don’t do something like that, at least we’re not as bad as them. In some instances, that may be true, but even when it is, the differences are usually much more a matter of degree than category (much the way that angry denunciations over the Taliban for suicide-bombing a funeral of one of its victims hides the fact that the U.S. engages in its own ‘double tap’ practice of bombing rescuers and funeral mourners for its drone victims). To the extent that these denunciation rituals make us forget or further obscure our own governments’ brutality – and that seems to be the overriding effect if not the purpose of these rituals – they are worse than worthless; they are actively harmful.”
• “At the same time, the ability of governments to wave the flag of ISIS and to invoke the spectre of al-Qaeda has once again put people into this kind of irrational fear of terrorism, where the risk that is posed to them is wildly inflated beyond what the evidence suggests it actually is.”
On the Drone-Strike Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in September 2011
• “Many Americans can (a) say that they oppose the targeted killings of Americans on foreign soil while simultaneously (b) supporting the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen because, for them, the term ‘Americans’ doesn’t include people like Anwar al-Awlaki. ‘Americans’ means their aunts and uncles, their nice neighbors down the street, and anyone else who looks like them, who looks and seems ‘American’. They don’t think those people — Americans — should be killed without charges by the US government if they travel on vacation to Paris or go to study for a semester in London. But the concept of ‘Americans’ most definitely does not include people with foreign and Muslim-ish names like ‘Anwar al-Awlaki’ who wear the white robes of a Muslim imam and spend time in a place like Yemen…. But the effort to depict Muslims as something other than ‘real Americans’ has long been a centerpiece of the US political climate in the era of the War on Terror.”
• “This decade-long Othering of Muslims — a process necessary to sustain public support for their continuous killing, imprisonment, and various forms of rights abridgments — has taken its toll. I’m most certainly not suggesting that anyone who supports Awlaki’s killing is driven by racism or anti-Muslim bigotry. I am suggesting that the belief that Muslims are somehow less American, or even less human, is widespread …”
On the Israel-Palestinian Conflict
• “When Americans resist military occupation by fighting against occupying troops on their soil, they are noble heroes. But when Palestinians do this, they are ‘terrorists.’ This discourse, by design, equates Palestinians resisting occupation by fighting against an occupying army with al Qaeda and ISIS, and thus posits that any use of force by Palestinians to resist Israeli occupation — even when done on Palestinian soil, aimed exclusively at Israeli military targets there — is illegitimate.”
• “Israel intends to continue to rule over and occupy Palestinians and deny them self-governance, political liberties, and voting rights indefinitely.”
• “Even as Western consensus continues to revere the most stalwart supporters of South Africa’s apartheid regime — Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Shimon Peres — it at least now regards apartheid itself in that country as a historic disgrace. History should regard those enabling Israel’s own march to permanent apartheid in exactly the same light. The most aggressive and consistent enablers of this apartheid are found at the top of the U.S. political class.”
• “Whatever you thought of Israel in the past, believing that it was some kind of bastion of liberal democracy in the Middle East, that it was surrounded by primitive brutal enemies, all the propaganda, what’s clear now is that Israel is something quite different than all of that. And even people who once believed that are now starting to come and see that Israel is an apartheid, rogue, terrorist state.”
• “Israel is now both a terrorist and an apartheid state and there is simply no remaining viable moral justification for supporting it.”
On the U.S. Relationship with Israel
• “It is inconceivable that a substantial portion of Americans would want to support any other foreign country even where doing so was contrary to U.S. interests. Only Israel commands anything near that level of devoted, self-sacrificing fervor on the part of Americans. So it’s certainly worth asking what accounts for this bizarre aspect of American public opinion. The answer should make everyone quite uncomfortable: it’s religious fanaticism. The U.S. media loves to mock adversary nations, especially Muslim ones, for being driven by religious extremism, but that is undeniably a major factor, arguably the most significant one, in explaining fervent support for Israel among the American populace.
• “[T]here’s no question that religious extremism is prevalent among Americans, and the pervasive and bizarrely absolute support for Israel is driven in significant part by extremist religious dogma about God’s will.”
• “Israeli aggression would be impossible without the constant, lavish support and protection of the U.S. government, which is anything but a neutral, peace-brokering party in these attacks.”
Below are some additional quotes in which Greenwald criticizes America’s relationship with Israel:
On October 29, 2020, Greenwald announced that was leaving The Intercept, due to its censorship of an article in which Greenwald discussed corruption allegations surrounding Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. In his resignation letter, Greenwald said that The Intercept‘s editors had refused to publish an article of his unless he deleted “all sections critical of … Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New-York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression.” Added Greenwald: “The censored article, based on recently revealed emails and witness testimony, raised critical questions about Biden’s conduct. Not content to simply prevent publication of this article at the media outlet I co-founded, these Intercept editors also demanded that I refrain from exercising a separate contractual right to publish this article with any other publication.”
The back story to Greenwald’s objections about the suppression of the Biden story were as follows:
In October 2020, it was learned that according to emails retrieved from a laptop computer owned by Joe Biden‘s son Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s longstanding claim that he knew nothing about his son’s overseas financial dealings was false. The New York Post published a bombshell report indicating that, according to an email retrieved from the computer hard drive, Hunter Biden had introduced his father in April 2015 to Vadym Pozharskyi, an executive at Burisma Holdings, a large Ukrainian gas company where Hunter was a board member. An earlier email from May 2014 also showed Pozharskyi asking Hunter Biden for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf. Additional emails showed that Hunter Biden had pursued a number of highly profitable deals involving the CEFC China Energy Company, Communist China’s largest private energy firm, and that Joe Biden had apparently profited financially from those deals.
Democrat congressman Adam Schiff showed no curiosity about this apparent corruption on Joe Biden’s part. Instead, he stated that the incriminating emails had been planted by “Russian disinformation” agents affiliated with “the Kremlin.” Schiff’s claims prompted Greenwald to remark: “First of all, Adam Schiff is seriously the most pathological liar in all of American politics that I have seen in all of my time covering politics and journalism. He just fabricates accusations at the drop of a hat the way that other people change underwear. He is simply lying when he just asserts over and over that the Russians or the Kremlin are behind this story. He has no idea whether or not that’s true. There’s no evidence to support it.”
Greenwald then proceeded to attack the CIA for what he viewed as an effort to manipulate America’s domestic politics:
“The whole point of the intelligence community since the end of World War II was that whatever propaganda the CIA produces, whatever disinformation campaigns they engage in, were never supposed to be directed domestically. That was the point of the NSA, the CIA and all of those intelligence communities. And what we’ve seen since 2016, going back to the 2016 campaign, is incessant involvement in U.S. domestic politics, working with journalists to disseminate information purely for partisan ends, and if you want to talk about things like violating norms and dangerous to democracy, what is more dangerous than allowing the CIA constantly to be manipulating our politics by making cover for the Biden campaign by claiming anonymously that the Russians are behind this story, and therefore you ought to disregard it.
“Even if the Russians were behind the story, why does that alleviate the responsibility of journalists to evaluate these emails and to examine whether or not Joe Biden actually engaged in misconduct? But the much bigger point is the way that this information is being disseminated. It is a union of journalists who have decided that their only goal is to defend Joe Biden and elect him President of the United States, working with the CIA and the FBI and the NSA, not to manipulate our adversaries or foreign governments, but to manipulate the American people for their own ends. It’s been going on for four straight years now, and there’s no sign of it stopping anytime soon.”
Greenwald is an endorser of RootsAction, a self-described “online initiative dedicated to galvanizing Americans who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection—and defunding endless wars.” RootsAction detests the “far-right Republican Party that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate America,” and is also critical of the Democratic Party “whose leadership is enmeshed with corporate power.”
Greenwald, who is openly homosexual, lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the hometown of his partner, David Michael Miranda.
IPT Report: Glenn Greenwald
By The Investigative Project on Terrorism
Glenn Greenwald’s Anti-Semitism Exposed
By Adam Levick
July 11, 2013
Glenn Greenwald: Raving Leftist
By Matthew Vadum
March 6, 2014
A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Useful Infidels
By Islamist Watch
December 27, 2016
Glenn Greenwald [Is] Enraged That Muslims with Terror Ties [Are] Under Surveillance
By Robert Spencer
July 9. 2014