Glenn Greenwald’s Web of Propaganda
Purportedly dedicated to “adversarial journalism,” whose “prime target is the US intelligence apparatus,” Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept, according to one commentator, “makes no pretense of being a neutral news organization … its one-sidedness is so flagrant and relentless that it easily traverses the line separating argumentation from propaganda.”
That is true in many areas. Greenwald blames the United States and its allies for the existence of Islamic terrorism, and claims that the 9/11 attacks are used as a pretext to violate Americans’ civil liberties. He also says that the FBI acts to create and encourage crimes by Muslims, and minimizes the importance of numerous prosecutions against Islamists in the United States, often omitting facts about defendants in his essays.
Among Greenwald’s most egregious claims, he has:
- Justified the murder of Fort Hood soldiers by Nidal Hasan and the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby by an Islamic terrorist.
- Justified murders committed by ISIS and Al Qaeda.
- Justified the killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas and Hezbollah.
- Denounced Israel, not Iran, as the “bogeyman” in the Middle East, claiming that Israel is a major terror actor.
- Likened US actions in Iraq to the Nazi seizures of Austria and Czechoslovakia.
- Accused the US military of deliberately targeting Muslim civilians instead of targeting actual terrorists.
- Characterized the terrorists held at Guantanamo as patriots who were merely defending their lands from foreign invasion.
- Claimed that officials declare an act to be terrorism only when Muslims commit it, rather than when non-Muslims are the perpetrators.
- Claimed that the FBI is targeting Islamist terrorists and simply framing Muslims.
- Claimed fancifully that the US media uncritically parrots US government claims.
- Charged writers and thinkers who criticize Islam with an “anti-Muslim animus.”
- Claimed that criticism of Palestinian terrorism leaves the Palestinians with no options to fight Israel’s “occupation.”
- Charged that accusations of antisemitism are just ploys to shut down criticism of Israel.
- Denounced the US killing of jihad terror mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki.
- Sided with Marc Lamont Hill and justified his genocidal call “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Greenwald has also participated in numerous conferences and events sponsored by US Islamist organizations, such as Hamas front the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Greenwald often criticizes the use of the term “terrorism” when applied to violent acts by Muslims, especially in attacks on Western soldiers, falsely claiming that for the most part, “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?”
On the 2013 murder of British soldier Fusilier Lee Rigby, hacked to death on a public street by Islamists in Woolwich, England, he wrote: “That this was a barbaric and horrendous act goes without saying, but given the legal, military, cultural and political significance of the term ‘terrorism,’ it is vital to ask: is that term really applicable to this act of violence? To begin with, in order for an act of violence to be ‘terrorism,’ many argue that it must deliberately target civilians. That’s the most common means used by those who try to distinguish the violence engaged in by western nations from that used by the ‘terrorists’: sure, we kill civilians sometimes, but we don’t deliberately target them the way the ‘terrorists’ do.”
He has rationalized Nidal Hasan’s 2009 terrorist attack at Fort Hood in a similar way: “But here, just as was true for Nidal Hasan’s attack on a Fort Hood military base, the victim of the violence was a soldier of a nation at war, not a civilian.”
This is part of his larger claim that the United States and its allies have deliberately killed Muslim civilians, so that these terror attacks are simply retaliation: “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?”
Greenwald even claims that terrorists interned at Guantanamo were merely defending their own country: “Amazingly, the US has even imprisoned people at Guantanamo and elsewhere on accusations of ‘terrorism’ who are accused of nothing more than engaging in violence against US soldiers who invaded their country.”
He has accordingly complained that his opponents are “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.”
Greenwald is highly critical of US and our allies’ international action and policy, and argues that Islamic terrorism in the West has been caused by the foreign policy of the United States and Western allies: “As the 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. … It’s vital to understand this causal relationship simply in order to prevent patent, tribalistic, self-glorifying falsehoods from taking hold.”
Unsurprisingly, Greenwald has defended Iran while criticizing Israel in his discussions of US foreign policy. In a debate with Bill Maher on foreign policy, he declared: “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.” He also made the demonstrably false claim that “Iran isn’t invading lots of other countries and occupying them for a decade. Nor are fundamentalist Muslim countries like the United States is.”
His antisemitic views are glaring, such as when Greenwald asked Maher: “Have you heard about the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza for the last 50 years — motivated in part by extremists’ views by Judaism?” (For the record, there is not one Israeli soldier in Gaza.)
Given his animus toward Israel, it is not surprising that Greenwald downplays the threat of the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. When Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups shot more than 400 rockets at Israel’s civilian population in November 2018, Greenwald made no comment about the human rights violations directed toward Israel or her population, but focused only on Israel’s response: “Israel threatened last week to begin ‘levelling’ high-rises in Gaza and now is making good on that threat, destroying a TV station, a radio station & an apartment building. They’re not even pretending this was accidental; they admit they were targeted.”
Greenwald has accused UN Ambassador Nikki Haley of lying about the situation in Gaza, and has asserted that Gaza is still occupied by Israel, claiming that “the world knows she’s lying, which is why the US just lost in the UN on Israel.”
Greenwald has likewise claimed that:
when Palestinians fight against occupying troops on their soil, they are denounced — and often killed — as “terrorists.” … If fighting Israeli occupying forces is barred as “terrorism,” and nonviolent boycotts against Israel are barred as “anti-Semitism,” then what is considered a legitimate means for Palestinians and their allies to resist and end the decades-long, illegal Israeli occupation? The answer is: nothing. Palestinians are obliged to submit to Israeli occupation in a way that none of the people demanding that would ever themselves submit to occupation of their land. All forms of resistance to Israeli occupation are deemed illegitimate. That, manifestly, is the whole point of all of this.
Even more fantastically, Greenwald has asserted that “Israel intends to continue to rule over and occupy Palestinians and deny them self-governance, political liberties, and voting rights indefinitely,” and that Israel is on a “march to permanent apartheid.” Israel, Greenwald insists, is “an apartheid, rogue, terrorist state,” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “this far-right, bloodthirsty, militaristic figure.”
Greenwald also is dismissive of American counter-terror efforts: “We insist on endlessly trading liberties for false security, eagerly doing so with every new attack. That mind-set does far more harm than good. In the wake of 9/11, it ushered in the Patriot Act, mass surveillance, torture and two decade-long wars.”
In line with this, he has claimed that the FBI is actually engaged in a massive conspiracy to target and frame Muslims: “The FBI’s informants have been so unstable and aggressive in trying to recruit members to join Terrorist plots that the targeted mosque members themselves have reported the informant to the FBI. Time and again, at the direction of these paid provocateurs who know that their ongoing payments depend upon enabling prosecutions, young Muslims in their late teens or early twenties end up saying something hostile about the US and/or statements that are otherwise politically offensive. The DOJ takes those inflammatory political statements and combines them with evidence of commitment to Islam to depict the target as a dangerous jihadist.”
To Greenwald, America, not the terrorists, is the real villain: “Who has brought more death, and suffering, and tyranny to the world over the last six decades than the US national security state?”
In late November 2018, Greenwald sided with CNN analyst and Temple University professor Mark Lamont Hill, who was criticized for his call, in a speech before the UN, for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” He wrote: “CNN‘s firing of Marc Lamont Hill over his Israel/Palestine speech is a major victory for ‘online call-out culture’ but a major defeat for the right to advocate for Palestinian rights, to freely critique Israel, and for journalism and public discourse to accommodate dissent.” He stated that Hill’s remark, which expressed tacit approval for a new genocide of the Jews, was “somehow construed as being anti-semitic.”
In response to arguments that the Kurds support the invasion of Iraq, Greenwald even went so far as to liken US actions to Nazi actions against Austria and Czechoslovakia: “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?”
Given his deep hatred for the United States, it is not surprising that Greenwald is also an apologist for ISIS: “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. … 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.”
Greenwald decried the 2011 killing of jihadist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and claimed that racism facilitates the War on Terror:
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.
Clearly, Greenwald’s mocking summation of his critics’ characterization is actually 100 percent correct: Greenwald is indeed a “pro-Terror, US-blaming Terrorist-lover, Jew-hating Terror-apologist.”
Read the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s full report on Greenwald here.
Steven Emerson is considered one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing, and operations. He serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a non-profit organization that serves as one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.