What patriots would never say: Glenn Greenwald’s Top 5 anti-American rants

As we’ve documented continually, Glenn Greenwald has a history, both at his former blog at Salon.com and ‘Comment is Free’, of advancing antisemitic tropes (including use of the neo-Nazi-derived anti-Semitic slur “Israel-Firster”). He also subscribes to a leftist ideological package which naturally imputes almost comic book-style villainy to the United States.

Recently, when asked to sum up the political significance of his campaign on behalf of Edward Snowden’s theft of thousands of classified NSA documents, he answered thusly:

the US and its closest allies are trying to build a surveillance system that has as its primary objective the elimination of privacy globally, by which I mean that everyone’s communications electronically will be collected, stored, analyzed and monitored by the US government.

Of course, the primary objective of the NSA is not some sinister plot to eliminate privacy globally but, rather, to defeat terrorists and their organizations by collecting and analyzing information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.

More recently, Greenwald, along with Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, published a new expose based on files obtained by Snowden, titled NSA shares raw intelligence including America’s data with Israel‘, Sept. 11.  Whilst you can read a good fisking of Greenwald’s new ‘revelations’ here, an even more interesting question worth exploring is how someone like Greenwald, with such a palpable loathing towards the U.S., is considered to have any credibility at all on issues of American national security.

For some background on his ideological orientation, here are a few highlights from Greenwald, the ‘civil libertarian’ who authored a book titled ‘How would a patriot act?‘:

1. Greenwald “the patriot” once evoked the Nazi conquest of the Sudetenland in criticizing the US-led mission to topple Saddam Hussein

Greenwald, Salon, June 29, 2010:

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.

And, of course, German citizens were told those invasions were necessary and just in order to liberate the repressed German minorities.

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.

As the liberal commentator Joe Klein observed

This is obscene. Comparing the Kurds, who had been historically orphaned and then slaughtered with poison gas by Saddam Hussein, with Nazi-loving Sudeten Germans is outrageous. Comparing the United States to Nazi Germany is not merely disgraceful, but revelatory of a twisted, deluded soul

2. Greenwald “the patriot” has hysterically all but accused President Obama of ordering the murder of Muslim civilians:

Greenwald, Guardian, on Nov. 15, 2012:

Extra-judicial assassination – accompanied by the wanton killing of whatever civilians happen to be near the target, often including children – is a staple of the Obama presidency.

Greenwald, Salon.com, June 12, 2012

The Obama policy of attacking rescuers and grieving rituals continues this weekend in Pakistan.

In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that after the U.S. kills people with drones in Pakistan, it then targets for death those who show up at the scene to rescue the survivors and retrieve the bodies, as well as those who gather to mourn the dead at funerals.” 

“On Sunday, June 3, the US targeted mourners gathered to grieve those killed in the first strike.”

Killing family members of bombing targets is nothing new for this President.”

“The US is a country which targets rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn…That tactic continues under President Obama, although it is now expanded to include the targeting of grieving rituals.”

As we revealed last November, the source Greenwald provided in support of his allegations that the U.S. intentionally targets Muslim civilians are two articles posted at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, neither of which even minimally back up this extraordinary claim.

3. Greenwald “the patriot” characterized Al Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awaki as a civil rights activist:

Anwar al-Awaki (killed by U.S. forces after Greenwald’s 2011 speech shown below) was a senior ‘talent recruiter’ for Al Qaeda who likely incited the jihadist rampage of the Fort Hood shooter and the attempted attack by the ‘Underwear Bomber‘.  Greenwald can be seen in the following clip (at a Marxism conference) characterizing the violent Islamist extremist as merely someone who speaks up for the civil rights of Muslims.


4. Greenwald “the patriot” argued that even the very word ‘terrorism’, when used by Americans, is inherently racist:

Greenwald, Guardian, April 22, 2013

The word “terrorism” is, at this point, one of the most potent in our political lexicon: it single-handedly ends debates, ratchets up fear levels, and justifies almost anything the government wants to do in its name. It’s hard not to suspect that the only thing distinguishing the Boston attack from Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook and Columbine (to say nothing of the US “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad and the mass killings in Fallujah) is that the accused Boston attackers are Muslim and the other perpetrators are not. As usual, what terrorism really means in American discourse – its operational meaning – is: violence by Muslims against Americans and their allies.

Greenwald, Salon.com, July 23, 2011

Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target.

Greenwald, Salon.com, Feb. 19, 2010:

The term [terrorism] now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her religious identity.  It has really come to mean:  ”a Muslim who fights against or even expresses hostility towards the United States, Israel and their allies.

If we’re really going to vest virtually unlimited power in the Government to do anything it wants to people they call “Terrorists”, we ought at least to have a common understanding of what the term means.  But there is none.  It’s just become a malleable, all-justifying term to allow the U.S. Government carte blanche to do whatever it wants to Muslims it does not like or who do not like it (i.e., The Terrorists). 

5. Greenwald “the patriot” praised Bradley Manning as a hero who deserves a medal:

Bradley Manning was recently convicted of multiple counts of espionage for disseminating hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks – information which was then available to the world, including terrorist enemies of the United States.

Greenwald, ‘Comment is Free’, Dec. 14, 2011:


Greenwald’s essay at Comment is Free included the following:

The oppressive treatment of Manning is designed to create a climate of fear, to send a signal to those who in the future discover serious wrongdoing committed in secret by the US: if you’re thinking about exposing what you’ve learned, look at what we did to Manning and think twice. The real crimes exposed by this episode are those committed by the prosecuting parties, not the accused. For what he is alleged to have given the world, Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.


In short, real American patriots don’t hysterically evoke comparisons between the US military action in Iraq and the Nazi conquest of Europe; they don’t defend Al Qaeda and other dangerous enemies of the country and amplify the message of terrorists by suggesting that the U.S. is engaged in a war against Islam; and they don’t express support for citizens who engage in treason.  

Whilst it is not surprising that Guardian style leftists support Greenwald, it is troubling that some within the mainstream left, the political center, and even some on the right, continue to treat him as if he was a serious journalist, and thus legitimize his radical, anti-American campaign.

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