Glenn Greenwald

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Glenn Edward Greenwald (1967-03-06) March 6, 1967 (age 47) New York City, New York, U.S.
Lawyer Journalist Author
George Washington University (B.A.) New York University (J.D.)
Non-fiction, political and legal commentary
US politics, law
How Would a Patriot Act? A Tragic Legacy No Place to Hide
David Michael Miranda

Glenn Edward Greenwald (born March 6, 1967) is an American lawyer, journalist and author. He was a columnist for Guardian US from August 2012 to October 2013. He was a columnist for from 2007 to 2012, and an occasional contributor to The Guardian. Greenwald worked as a constitutional and civil rights litigator. At Salon he contributed as a columnist and blogger, focusing on political and legal topics. He has also contributed to other newspapers and political news magazines, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The American Conservative, The National Interest, and In These Times. In February 2014 he became, along with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, one of the founding editors of The Intercept.

Greenwald was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2013. Four of the five books he has written have been on The New York Times Best Sellers list. Greenwald is a frequent speaker on college campuses, including Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, UCLA School of Law, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Maryland. He frequently appears on various radio and television programs.

Greenwald has received awards including the first Izzy Award for independent journalism, in 2009, and the 2010 Online Journalism Award for Best Commentary. In June 2013 Greenwald became widely known after The Guardian published the first of a series of reports detailing United States and British global surveillance programs, based on classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden. The series on which Greenwald worked, along with others, won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. His reporting on the National Security Agency (NSA) won numerous other awards around the world, including top investigative journalism prizes from the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting, the 2013 Online Journalism Awards, the Esso Award for Excellence in Reporting in Brazil for his articles in O Globo on NSA mass surveillance of Brazilians (becoming the first foreigner to win the award), the 2013 Libertad de Expresion Internacional award from Argentinian magazine Perfil, and the 2013 Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Greenwald lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the hometown of his partner, David Michael Miranda. Greenwald has said his residence in Brazil is the result of an American law, the Defense of Marriage Act, barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages, which prevented his partner from receiving a visa to reside in the United States with him.

  • 1 Early life and education
  • 2 Career
    • 2.1 Litigation attorney
    • 2.2 Businessman
    • 2.3 Unclaimed Territory
    • 2.4 Salon
    • 2.5 The Guardian
    • 2.6 First Look Media and The Intercept
    • 2.7 Guest appearances
    • 2.8 Books
  • 3 Global surveillance disclosure
  • 4 Political views
  • 5 First Look Media
  • 6 Reception
  • 7 Awards
  • 8 Books
  • 9 See also
  • 10 References
  • 11 Further reading
  • 12 External links

Early life and education

Greenwald was born on March 6, 1967, in New York City to Arlene and Daniel Greenwald. Shortly after his birth, Greenwald moved with his family to Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. While a senior in high school, at 17, he ran unsuccessfully for the city council. After graduating from high school, Greenwald enrolled in George Washington University where he majored in philosophy. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1990. He then attended the New York University School of Law earning a Juris Doctor in 1994.

Career Litigation attorney

Greenwald practiced law in the Litigation Department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz (1994–1995); in 1996 he co-founded his own litigation firm, called Greenwald Christoph & Holland (later renamed Greenwald Christoph PC), where he litigated cases concerning issues of U.S. constitutional law and civil rights. One of his higher-profile cases was the pro bono representation of white supremacist Matthew F. Hale, in a series of First Amendment speech cases. About that work, Greenwald told Rolling Stone, "to me, it''s a heroic attribute to be so committed to a principle that you apply it not when it''s easy...not when it supports your position, not when it protects people you like, but when it defends and protects people that you hate".

Later, according to Greenwald, "I decided voluntarily to wind down my practice in 2005 because I could, and because, after ten years, I was bored with litigating full-time and wanted to do other things which I thought were more engaging and could make more of an impact, including political writing."


In 2002, Greenwald was offered the partnership in a consulting company, Master Notions Inc., by a friend, Jason Buchtel. Greenwald and Buchtel agreed to help Haas''s site in return for 50% of the profits. A legal disagreement with Haas ensued over the profits from his site, and the establishment of a competing website by Buchtel and Greenwald. The case was resolved in 2004.

Unclaimed Territory

In October 2005, he started his blog Unclaimed Territory focusing on the investigation pertaining to the Plame affair, the CIA leak grand jury investigation, the federal indictment of Scooter Libby and the NSA warrantless surveillance (2001–07) controversy. In April 2006, the blog received the 2005 Koufax Award for "Best New Blog".


In February 2007, Greenwald became a contributing writer at, and the new column and blog superseded Unclaimed Territory, though prominently features hyperlinks to it in Greenwald''s dedicated biographical section.

Among the frequent topics of his Salon articles were the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks, and the candidacy of former CIA official John O. Brennan for the jobs of either Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (D/CIA) or the next Director of National Intelligence (DNI) after the election of Barack Obama. Brennan withdrew his name from consideration for the post after opposition centered in liberal blogs and led by Greenwald. Brennan took up the leadership position at the CIA again, in March 2013.

The Guardian

Greenwald left on August 20, 2012 for The Guardian, citing "the opportunity to reach a new audience, to further internationalize my readership, and to be re-invigorated by a different environment" as reasons for the move.

On June 5, 2013, Greenwald scooped the story on the top-secret United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order requiring Verizon to provide the National Security Agency with telephone metadata for all calls between the US and abroad, as well as all domestic calls.

Further information: Verizon Communications: NSA Collection of Phone Records First Look Media and The InterceptFront page of The Intercept

On October 15, 2013, Greenwald announced and The Guardian confirmed that he was leaving to pursue a "once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline". Reuters reported that the philanthropist providing the financial backing for the new venture was Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder.

That news organization, First Look Media, launched its first online publication, called The Intercept on February 10, 2014. Greenwald serves as editor, alongside Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.

Guest appearances

Greenwald has appeared as a round table guest on ABC''s Sunday morning news show This Week, HBO''s Real Time with Bill Maher, Comedy Central''s The Colbert Report, NPR''s All Things Considered, as well as numerous times on C-SPAN''s Washington Journal; Pacifica Radio''s syndicated series Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman; on Public Radio International''s To the Point; MSNBC''s Rachel Maddow Show, Morning Joe, The Last Word with Lawrence O''Donnell, Up with Chris Hayes, and Dylan Ratigan''s Morning Meeting; Fox News'' Special Report with Brit Hume;. Greenwald has been a regular guest on the Hugh Hewitt Show (and was a friend and favorite guest of Hewitt''s frequent guest host, Dean Barnett) and on PBS''s Bill Moyers Journal. On 15 September 2014, he was a headline speaker at Kim Dotcom''s Moment of Truth town hall meeting held in Auckland, New Zealand.


Greenwald''s first book, How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values From a President Run Amok, was published by Working Assets in 2006. It was a New York Times bestseller, and ranked #1 on both before its publication (due to pre-orders based on attention from ''UT'' readers and other bloggers) and for several days after its release, ending its first week at #293.

A Tragic Legacy, his second book, examines the presidency of George W. Bush "with an emphasis on his personality traits and beliefs that drove the presidency (along with an emphasis on how and why those personality traits have led to a presidency that has failed to historic proportions)." Published in hardback by Crown (a division of Random House) on June 26, 2007, and reprinted in a paperback edition by Three Rivers Press on April 8, 2008, it too was a New York Times Best Seller, also ranking #1 for a day on''s Non-Fiction Best Seller List and #2 the next day (also due to heavy "discussions and promotions by blogs—a campaign catalyzed by Jane Hamsher ", according to Greenwald).

His third book, Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics, was published by Random House in April 2008, the same month that Three Rivers Press reissued A Tragic Legacy in paperback.

His fourth book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, was released by Metropolitan Books in October 2011.

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State was released in May 2014. It spent 6 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, and was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by Amazon and Best NonFiction Books of 2014 by Amazon.

Global surveillance disclosure Main article: 2013 Global surveillance disclosure Contact with Edward Snowden

Greenwald was first contacted by Edward Snowden, a former contractor of the U.S. National Security Agency, in late 2012. Snowden contacted Greenwald anonymously and said he had "sensitive documents" that he would like to share. Greenwald found the measures that the source asked him to take to secure their communications, such as encrypting email, too annoying to employ. Snowden then contacted documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras in January 2013.

According to The Guardian, what originally attracted Snowden to both Greenwald and Poitras was a Salon article penned by Greenwald detailing how Poitras'' controversial films had made her a "target of the government". Greenwald began working with Snowden in either February or in April after Poitras asked Greenwald to meet her in New York City, at which point Snowden began providing documents to them both.

Media publications
This section requires expansion. (December 2013)

As part of the global surveillance disclosure, the first of Snowden''s documents were published on June 5, 2013, by Glenn Greenwald in Britain''s The Guardian. According to Greenwald, Snowden''s documents exposed the "scale of domestic surveillance under Obama".

Detention of David MirandaGreenwald and his partner David Miranda in 2013

In August 2013 the Metropolitan Police detained Greenwald''s partner David Miranda at London''s Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, while he was traveling home from Berlin. His belongings were seized, including an external hard drive said to be containing sensitive documents relevant to the Greenwald''s reporting which were encrypted with software called TrueCrypt.

Greenwald described his partner''s detention as "clearly intended to send a message of intimidation to those of us who have been reporting on the NSA and GCHQ". Miranda was detained for nine hours and his laptop and other items were seized. He has since attempted to sue the Metropolitan Police for misuse of their powers. According to The Guardian, the claim, "challenging controversial powers used under schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000, maintains that Miranda was not involved in terrorism and says his right to freedom of expression was curtailed".

According to a later article in The Guardian, Miranda was found to have been carrying an external hard drive containing 58,000 highly classified UK intelligence documents, and his detention was ruled lawful by the UK High Court, which accepted that Miranda''s detention and the seizure of computer material was "an indirect interference with press freedom" but said this was justified by legitimate and "very pressing" interests of national security.

Members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) in the UK Parliament said that allowing police to stop and search suspects at airports without suspicion was “not inherently incompatible” with human rights. MPs and peers said they agreed anti-terror officers should be able to “stop, question, request documentation and physically search persons and property” even when they did not have reasonable suspicion that an offence had been committed. But they urged the Government to introduce new restrictions on powers such as strip-searches, detentions and searches of the contents of electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones, and said that these “more intrusive” measures should take place only when officers had reasonable suspicion that someone was involved in terrorism.

In December 2013, Greenwald and Miranda openly advocated for asylum in Brazil for Edward Snowden in exchange for the fugitive leaker''s cooperation in investigating the NSA. Brazil responded by saying that it was not interested in investigating the NSA.

Testimony National Congress of Brazil

In a statement delivered before the National Congress of Brazil in early August 2013, Greenwald testified that the U.S. government had used counter-terrorism as a pretext for clandestine surveillance in order to compete with other countries in the "business, industrial and economic fields".

European Parliament

On 18 December 2013, Greenwald told the European Union''s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs that "most governments around the world are not only turning their backs on Edward Snowden but also on their ethical responsibilities". Speaking via a video link, Greenwald asserted that "It is the UK through their interception of underwater fibre optic cables, that is a primary threat to the privacy of European citizens when it comes to their telephone and emails". According to a statement given to the European Parliament by Greenwald:

The ultimate goal of the NSA, along with its most loyal, one might say subservient junior partner the British agency GCHQ - when it comes to the reason why the system of suspicion of surveillance is being built and the objective of this system - is nothing less than the elimination of individual privacy worldwide

—Glenn GreenwaldPolitical viewsMiranda and Greenwald speak at the National Congress of Brazil in the wake of the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures.

Greenwald is critical of actions jointly supported by Democrats and Republicans, writing: "The worst and most tyrannical government actions in Washington are equally supported on a fully bipartisan basis." In the preface to his first book, How Would a Patriot Act? (2006), Greenwald opens with some of his own personal political history, describing his ''pre-political'' self as neither liberal nor conservative as a whole, voting neither for George W. Bush nor for any of his rivals (indeed, not voting at all).

Bush''s election to the U.S. presidency "changed" Greenwald''s previous uninvolved political attitude toward the electoral process "completely", and in 2006 he wrote:

Over the past five years, 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. 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"; for, "the fact that this seizure of ever-expanding presidential power is largely justified through endless, rank fear-mongering—fear of terrorists, specifically—means that not only our system of government is radically changing, but so, too, are our national character, our national identity, and what it means to be American."

Believing that "It is incumbent upon all Americans who believe in that system, bequeathed to us by the founders, to defend it when it is under assault and in jeopardy. And today it is", he says: "I did not arrive at these conclusions eagerly or because I was predisposed by any previous partisan viewpoint. Quite the contrary."

Resistant to applying ideological labels to himself, he emphasizes that he is a strong advocate for U.S. constitutional "balance of powers" and for constitutionally-protected civil and political rights in his writings and public appearances.

He criticized the policies of the Bush administration and those who supported it, arguing that most of the American "Corporate News Media" excused Bush''s policies and echoed the administration''s positions rather than asking hard questions.

Regarding civil liberties during the Obama presidency, he elaborated on his conception of change when he said, "I think the only means of true political change will come from people working outside of that system to undermine it, and subvert it, and weaken it, and destroy it; not try to work within it to change it." He did, however, raise money for Russ Feingold''s 2010 Senate re-election bid, Bill Halter''s 2010 primary challenge to Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln, as well as several Congressional candidates in 2012 described as "unique".

Greenwald is critical of Israel''s foreign policy and influence on U.S. politics, a stance for which he has in turn been the subject of criticism.

He is critical of what he calls the distorted version of "Godwin''s law" to prima facie reject any comparison to Nazism. He believes there are instances where such comparisons are warranted.

Greenwald criticized the prison conditions in which U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning, the accused WikiLeaks leaker then known as Bradley, was held after Manning''s arrest by military authorities. As a supporter of Manning, describing her as "a whistle-blower acting with the noblest of motives", and "a national hero similar to Daniel Ellsberg."

First Look Media Main article: First Look Media

In October 2013, Greenwald announced that he was partnering with eBay founder and PayPal owner Pierre Omidyar on a new independent news venture named First Look Media. Omidyar has said that he was committing an initial $250m to the venture. Omidyar told media critic Jay Rosen that the decision was fuelled by his "rising concern about press freedoms in the United States and around the world." Greenwald along with his colleagues Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill were initially working on creating a place online to support independent journalism, when they were approached by Omidyar who was looking to start his own media organization. The new venture will be a for-profit one (rather than a non-profit charity) and it will be funded by Omidyar personally instead of through the Omidyar Network.


Greenwald has been placed on numerous "top 50" and "top 25" lists of columnists in the United States. In June of 2012, Newsweek magazine named him one of America''s Top 10 Opinionists, saying that "a righteous, controlled, and razor-sharp fury runs through a great deal" of his writing, and: "His independent persuasion can make him a danger or an asset to both sides of the aisle."

According to Nate Anderson, writing in Ars Technica, around 2010/2011 Aaron Barr of HBGary and Team Themis planned to damage Greenwald''s career as a way to respond to a potential dump of Bank of America documents by WikiLeaks, saying that "Without the support of people like Glenn WikiLeaks would fold."

Josh Voorhees, writing in, reported that in 2013 congressman Peter King (R-NY) suggested Greenwald should be arrested for his reporting on the NSA PRISM program and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin said "I would arrest and now I''d almost arrest Glenn Greenwald", but later apologized for his statement, which Greenwald accepted.

Journalist David Gregory accused Greenwald of aiding and abetting Snowden, before asking "why shouldn''t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?"

In an interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC''s Sunday morning news program This Week, Greenwald said that members of Congress are being "blocked" from getting "the most basic information about what NSA is doing... and what the FISA court has been doing...." and specifically referenced Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), a ranking member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ("House Intelligence Committee"). Ruppersberger, who was a guest on the show, responded, "We have rules as far as the committee and what you can have and what you cannot have. However, based on that, that statement I just made, is that since this incident occurred with Snowden, we''ve had three different hearings for members of our Democratic Caucus, and the Republican Caucus.... And we will continue to do that because what we''re trying to do now is to get the American public to know more about what''s going on." Rep. King, who was also a guest on This Week as a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, stated: "o me it''s unprecedented to have all of these top people from an administration during this time of crisis still come in and answer question after question after question. So anyone who says that Congress is somehow being stonewalled is just wrong and is generally, I think, raised by people who are trying to make a name for themselves."

In a February 2014, interview Greenwald said he believed he risked detention if he reentered the U.S., but would likely return, should he win a prestigious journalism award. Later that month, it was announced that he was among the recipients of the 2013 Polk Awards, to be conferred April 11, 2014 in Manhattan. In a subsequent interview, Greenwald stated he would attend the ceremony, and added: "I absolutely refuse to be exiled from my own country for the crime of doing journalism and I''m going to force the issue just on principle. And I think going back for a ceremony like the Polk Awards or other forms of journalistic awards would be a really good symbolic test of having to put the government in the position of having to arrest journalists who are coming back to the US to receive awards for the journalism they have done." On April 11, Greenwald and Poitras accepted the Polk award in Manhattan. Although their entry into the United States was trouble-free, they travelled with an ACLU lawyer and a German journalist "to document any unpleasant surprises". Accepting the award, Greenwald said he was "happy to see a table full of Guardian editors and journalists, whose role in this story is much more integral than the publicity generally recognizes".

  • 2009 Izzy Award for independent journalism
  • 2010 Online Journalism Award for Best Commentary
  • 2013 EFF Pioneer Award for coverage and analysis of the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures
  • 2013 George Polk Award
  • 2014 Geschwister-Scholl-Preis for No Place to Hide
  • 2014 No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State. Metropolitan Books (Div. of Henry Holt and Company), ISBN 1-6277-9073-X (10). ISBN 978-1-62779-073-4 (13).
  • 2011 With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. Metropolitan Books (Div. of Henry Holt and Company), ISBN 0-8050-9205-6 (10). ISBN 978-0-8050-9205-9 (13).
  • 2008 Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics. New York: Random House, ISBN 0-307-40802-7 (10). ISBN 978-0-307-40802-0 (13). (Also available as an E-book.)
  • 2007 A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency. New York: Crown (Div. of Random House) ISBN 0-307-35419-9 (10). ISBN 978-0-307-35419-8 (13). (Hardback ed.) Three Rivers Press, 2008. ISBN 0-307-35428-8 (10). ISBN 978-0-307-35428-0 (13). (Paperback ed.)
  • 2006 How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values From a President Run Amok. San Francisco: Working Assets (Distrib. by Publishers Group West), ISBN 0-9779440-0-X (10). ISBN 978-0-9779440-0-2 (13).

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