Glenn Greenwald

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Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a journalist who writes for the Intercept, the Guardian, and Salon. Prior to becoming a blogger for Salon, Greenwald was a constitutional law and civil rights attorney in New York. Greenwald is the author of two New York Times Bestsellers: How Would a Patriot Act? (May, 2006), A Tragic Legacy (June, 2007), as well as the book "Great American Hypocrites." Greenwald is famous for his lengthy polemical blog entries, as well as his scathing critiques of the mainstream media, United States foreign policy, legal and constitutional law issues, as well as government-sponsored manipulative propaganda and public relations efforts. He is the author of several books,[1] most recently No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State.

News and Controversy

Timeline of Reporting on Bolsonaro


  • May 22: Glenn Greenwald released an hour-long interview with Brazilian ex-president Lula da Silva who had been jailed under circumstances Greenwald called "highly suspicious", pointing out how "All year long, polls showed him as the clear front-runner for the 2018 presidential race." and "Lula’s 2018 return to presidency was virtually inevitable and that only one instrument existed for preventing it: quickly convicting him of a felony which, under Brazilian law, would render him ineligible to run as a candidate."[2]
  • June 9: The Intercept released a series called "The Secret Brazil Archive", described as "A massive trove of previously undisclosed materials provides unprecedented insight into the operations of the anti-corruption task force that transformed Brazilian politics and gained worldwide attention."[3]
  • July 3: Brazilian federal police planned to investigate Greenwald's bank accounts and financial activities.[4] Greenwald responded on Twitter, saying: "According to a right-wing site often cited by Sergio Moro & used by corrupt prosecutors for leaks, the Federal Police - which Moro controls - has formally requested an investigation into my finances. They're not even hiding their abuse of power to retaliate against journalists."[5]
  • July 29: Bolsonaro, realizing he was unable to deport Greenwald, said: "Trickster, trickster, to avoid such a problem, he marries another trickster and adopts a child in Brazil... That is the problem we have. He will not leave. Maybe he will do jail time in Brazil, but he won't be kicked out."[6] Greenwald is married to Brazilian politician David Miranda.[7] Greenwald responded on Twitter, saying "The more corruption we reveal, the more menacing, authoritarian and repressive they get, which is not an unusual pattern", [8] "Brazil's President, apparently with few national problems to address and little to do, gave an interview this morning again attacking me and suggesting I was guilty of crimes. I don't think he understands (a) the Constitution or (b) that he's not a judge or dictator",[9] and "To Bolsonaro's credit, at least he managed this time to threaten me with prison without twisted and deranged homophobic mockery of my marriage and adopted children."[10]
  • August 8: Minister Gilmar Mendes, a member of Brazil’s Supreme Court, prevented the Bolsonaro administration from investigating Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept Brazil, saying in his decision, "The immediate right of free speech is the right to obtain, produce and disseminate facts and news by any means."[11] In response to the decision, Greenwald said “The Brazilian Constiution robustly and expressly protects exactly the work we’re doing… this crucial precedent ensures that not only we, but all Brazilian journalists can do our jobs… without fear of official retaliation from the state” [12]

Reporting on Russia and Russiagate

A few months before Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Greenwald noticed that "a frequent weapon in the 2016 election is to publicly malign those [Clinton and her supporters] regard as critics and adversaries as Russia sympathizers, Putin stooges, or outright agents of the Kremlin."[13] Greenwald pointed out that accusations of Russian allegiance were thrown at Trump and his campaign, but also "anyone perceived to be an impediment to Clinton’s victory", including Wikileaks, her Democratic primary challenger Bernie Sanders, Green party presidential nominee Jill Stein, as well as "media outlets and journalists who simply reported on the contents of the leaked DNC emails" such as the Intercept.[13]

Greenwald countered these accusations by asserting "one presidential candidate who actually has significant, questionable ties to Russia is named... Hillary Clinton."[14] He cited a New York Times article that showed how Bill and Hillary Clinton made a deal which “gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States” while receiving undisclosed donations to the Clinton Foundation from the deal's engineers.[15]

In another piece, Greenwald wondered why no charges of inappropriate closeness with the Kremlin had been leveled at then-president Obama, saying "...the most glaring irony of all is that as Clinton-led Democrats this year equate overtures toward Russia as evidence of Putin-loving disloyalty — whether it be Trump’s opposition to arming Ukraine or his heretical questioning of NATO— there is an American politician who has, time and again, accommodated Putin, sought to improve relations with Moscow, dismissed as fearmongering the threat Russia poses to the U.S., and repeatedly taken steps that benefited Russian interests. That politician’s name is Barack Obama." [16]

After Special Council Robert Mueller released his final report in April 2019, Greenwald released a triumphant piece proclaiming "The two-pronged conspiracy theory that has dominated U.S. political discourse for almost three years – that (1) Trump, his family and his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, and (2) Trump is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin — was not merely rejected today by the final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It was obliterated: in an undeniable and definitive manner."[17]

Criticism of Greenwald's Russia coverage

In a February 2018 episode of Jeremy Scahill's Intercepted podcast, Greenwald debated fellow Intercept journalist James Risen about the best way to cover stories related to the Trump-Russia case.

During the debate, Risen criticized Greenwald's style of writing on this case, saying to him: "Many times what you do is you criticize the political or journalistic points of view of either the writer or a politician who is talking about Trump and Russia, fairly and often validly, but you don’t deal with the underlying issue of the substance of the Trump and Russia case... I wonder whether the way in which you write about these issues masks an acceptance of the substance of the case that you don’t want to talk about."[18]

Scahill criticized Greenwald for using Fox News as a vehicle for spreading his opinion about the Trump-Russia case, saying "a lot of the times when you’re on Tucker Carlson’s show... one of the more rabid and dangerous people, particularly on issues of race in this country... you do not make it a point to go after him for those things that filter into what is actually going on in this country and what we should be standing in opposition to. So I find that curious."[18]

Greenwald responded by pointing out Scahill's frequent appearances on Bill Maher's show, calling Maher "incredibly bigoted and racist and horrible in all kinds of ways" and saying "I presume you (go on Maher's show) because you believe that the things you’re saying are important and you want to have a platform and reach the most number of people that you can in order to do them." [19]

Support for Julian Assange

After the Trump administration's May 2019 indictment of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Greenwald worried about its consequences on press freedom, saying "With these new charges, the Trump administration is aggressively and explicitly seeking to obliterate the last reliable buffer protecting journalism in the United States from being criminalized, a step that no previous administration, no matter how hostile to journalistic freedom, was willing to take. The U.S. government has been eager to prosecute Assange since the 2010 leaks. Until now, though, officials had refrained because they concluded it was impossible to distinguish WikiLeaks’ actions from the typical business of mainstream media outlets. Indicting Assange for the act of publishing would thus make journalism a felony." [20]

In a series of tweets after the indictment, Greenwald criticized Democrats for their failure to stand up for Assange, sharing a 2010 Wall Street Journal article by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein entitled "Prosecute Assange Under the Espionage Act". Greenwald also linked to 2010 interviews where then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out against Assange, respectively calling him a "high-tech terrorist"[21] and saying "he has to answer for what he has done."[22] Greenwald also shared a Politifact "True" ruling on the statement, "The Obama administration has used the Espionage Act to go after whistleblowers who leaked to journalists ... more than all previous administrations combined".[23] and noted how few Democrats came to Assange's defense other than Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren, and Ron Wyden.[24]

After Assange's 2010 arrest on sexual assault allegations, Greenwald raised concerns in a Democracy Now! interview, pointing out that Assange was never charged with a crime and saying he found it "questionable indeed whether what’s really going on is a politically motivated effort to get him out of WikiLeaks, stop what he’s doing in terms of exposing and bringing transparency to governments around the world, and ultimately hand him over to the United States." [25] Greenwald also mentioned how, following Assange's arrest, WikiLeaks was "essentially removed from the internet, not just through a denial of service attacks that are very sophisticated, but through political pressure applied to numerous countries. Their funds have been frozen, including funds donated by people around the world for his — for Julian Assange’s defense fund and for WikiLeaks’s defense fund... Leading politicians and media figures have called for their assassination, their murder, to be labeled a terrorist organization."[25] Later Greenwald stated, "this extralegal persecution ought to be very alarming to every citizen in every one of these countries, because it essentially is pure authoritarianism and is designed to prevent the internet from being used as its ultimate promise, which is providing a check on unconstrained political power."[25]

Edward Snowden's Whistleblowing Revelations of NSA Spying

Greenwald, fellow Guardian writer Evan MacAskill, and fellow Intercept co-founder Laura Poitras met with National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden in June 2013.[26] Greenwald and Poitras released a 12-minute video interview of Snowden where he explained how as he rose up the ranks at the NSA, he was "exposed to a lot more information on a broader scale then the average employee",[27] noticed many worrying aspects of his work were "actually abuses"[27] that "happened on a frequent basis."[27]

Speaking on his wish to alert others to these problems Snowden said, "over time that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up and you feel compelled to talk about. And the more you talk about the more you're ignored. The more you're told its not a problem until eventually you realize that these things need to be determined by the public and not by somebody who was simply hired by the government."[27]

Describing the NSA operations he found worrying, Snowden said, "NSA and intelligence community in general is focused on getting intelligence wherever it can by any means possible..."[27] He also described how a mission that was "narrowly tailored as foreign intelligence gathered overseas" had since expanded to include domestic surveillance as well, saying: "Any analyst at any time can target anyone, any selector, anywhere... I sitting at my desk certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a Federal judge to even the President if I had a personal e-mail."[27]

Asked about why people who didn't engage in wrongdoing should be concerned, Snowden said, "even if you're not doing anything wrong you're being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it's getting to the point where you don't have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with."[27]

David Miranda Detained

In August 2014, Greenwald's husband, Brazilian politician David Miranda, was detained and searched for nine hours at London Heathrow Airport. The NSA worked together with M15 to have Miranda searched, because they suspected he was carrying data related to the Edward Snowden case.[28] However, the only way to legally search him was to invoke schedule 7 of the U.K.'s 2000 Terrorism Act.[29] Therefore, M15 claimed publication of Snowden-related documents could be defined as an act of terrorism, saying disclosing or threatening to disclose these leaked documents was "designed to influence a government, and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism."[28] The Guardian remarked that "The use of schedule 7 against someone who was known not to be a terrorist was a blatant abuse– and an alarming precedent in which a government matched journalism with terrorism."[28]

Journalistic Career

In February 2014, Greenwald co-founded the Intercept with filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Jeremy Scahill.[30]

In July 2012, he joined the Guardian along with "other American-based columnists — including Michael Wolff, Ana Marie Cox and Naomi Wolf — as part of its effort to create a larger presence in the United States." [31]

In February 2007, he began working for online media outlet Salon after writing an online blog entitled "Unclaimed Territory" for a few years.[32]


  • For reporting on Edward Snowden and NSA spying in 2013, along with other journalists at the Guardian and the Washington Post, Greenwald won the George Polk Award, [33] the Pulitzer Prize in Public Journalism [34] the Gannet Foundation Award for Investigative Journalism[35] and the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award. [36]
  • Online Journalism Award in 2010 for reporting on whistleblower Chelsea Manning [37]
  • Park Center for Independent Media's Izzy Award in 2009[38]

Contact Information

Glenn Greenwald Twitter
Glenn Greenwald Facebook

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

Edward Snowden
National Security Agency

External articles


  1. Goodreads Glenn Greenwald, "Goodreads", accessed August 7, 2019.
  2. Glenn Greenwald Watch: Interview With Brazil’s Ex-President Lula From Prison, Discussing Global Threats, Neoliberalism, Bolsonaro, and More, "Intercept", accessed August 7, 2019.
  3. Glenn Greenwald et al. "The Secret Brazil Archive", "Intercept", accessed August 7, 2019.
  4. Dom Phillips Outcry after reports Brazil plans to investigate Glenn Greenwald , "The Guardian", accessed August 7, 2019.
  5. Glenn Greenwald 1146108827538006016, "Twitter", accessed August 7, 2019.
  6. AFP Brazil's Bolsonaro says Greenwald could 'do jail time', "Yahoo", accessed August 7, 2019.
  7. Fred A. Bernstein The Unflinching Courage of Rio’s Gay Crusader, "Out", accessed August 7, 2019.
  8. Glenn Greenwald 1155961074518130688, "Twitter", accessed August 7, 2019.
  9. Glenn Greenwald 1155851490663251968, "Twitter", accessed August 7, 2019.
  10. Glenn Greenwald 1155853510673670144, "Twitter", accessed August 7, 2019.
  11. Hellen Leite Gilmar Mendes proíbe investigação contra o jornalista Glenn Greenwald, "Correio Braziliense", accessed August 14, 2019.
  12. Trevor Time Brazil Supreme Court Minister Rules to Protect Press Freedom for Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept, translated from Portuguese, "Intercept", accessed August 14, 2019.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Glenn Greenwald Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in U.S., "Intercept", accessed August 9, 2019.
  14. Glenn Greenwald [ Democrats’ Tactic of Accusing Critics of Kremlin Allegiance Has Long, Ugly History in U.S. ], "Intercept:, accessed August 12, 2019.
  15. Jo Becker and Mike McIntire Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal "New York Times", accessed August 9, 2019.
  16. Glenn Greenwald What’s Behind Barack Obama’s Ongoing Accommodation of Vladimir Putin?, "Intercept", accessed August 9, 2019.
  17. Glenn Greenwald Robert Mueller Did Not Merely Reject the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theories. He Obliterated Them, "Intercept", accessed August 9, 2019.
  18. 18.0 18.1 James Risen Intercepted Podcast: RussiaMania — Glenn Greenwald vs. James Risen, "Intercepted", accessed August 10, 2019.
  19. Glenn Greenwald Intercepted Podcast: RussiaMania — Glenn Greenwald vs. James Risen, "Intercepted", accessed August 10, 2019.
  20. Glenn Greenwald The indictment of Assange is a blueprint for making journalists into felons, "Washington Post", accessed August 9, 2019.
  21. Glenn Greenwald 1132714235656658945, "Twitter", accessed August 9, 2019.
  22. Glenn Greenwald 1132715021203648512], "Twitter", accessed August 9, 2019.
  23. Jon Greenberg CNN's Tapper: Obama has used Espionage Act more than all previous administrations, "Politifact", accessed August 9, 2019.
  24. Glenn Greenwald 1132716005363527683, "Twitter", accessed August 9, 2019.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Glenn Greenwald [ Glenn Greenwald on the Arrest of Julian Assange and the U.S. “War on WikiLeaks”, "Democracy Now", accessed August 12, 2019.
  26. Mirren Gidda Edward Snowden and the NSA files– timeline, "Guardian", accessed August 10, 2019.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations "Guardian", accessed August 14, 2019.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Luke Harding David Miranda's detention: a chilling attack on journalism, "Guardian", accessed August 12, 2019.
  29. Guardian Terrorism Act 2000, "Guardian", accessed August 12, 2019.
  30. Glenn Greenwald et al. Welcome to the Intercept, "Intercept", accessed August 7, 2019.
  31. Glenn Greenwald Moves From Salon to Guardian U.S., organizational web page, accessed August 7, 2019.
  32. Glenn Greenwald Unclaimed Territory, "Blogspot", accessed August 7, 2019.
  33. Associated Press Greenwald wins Polk Award, "Politico", accessed August 7, 2019.
  34. Ed Pilkington Guardian and Washington Post win Pulitzer prize for NSA revelations, "Guardian", accessed August 7, 2019.
  35. Online Journalism Awards Gannett Foundation Award for Watchdog Journalism, "Online Journalism Awards", accessed August 7, 2019.
  36. Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF Pioneer Awards 2013, "Electronic Frontier Foundation", accessed August 7, 2019.
  37. Online Journalism Awards 2010, "Online Journalism Awards", accessed August 7, 2019.
  38. Ithaca College The Annual Izzy Award, "Ithaca College", accessed August 7, 2019.
  39. Freedom of the Press Foundation Directors, organizational web page, accessed April 15, 2019.