Glenn Greenwald’s Sympathy for the Devil

After five years of equivocation on Syria, Glenn Greenwald has finally taken a stance. He is attacking Syria’s leading dissident who spent 16 years in Assad’s notorious prisons for his left-wing politics, whose two brothers were abducted by ISIS, and whose wife was disappeared three years ago.

Greenwald’s charge? That Yassin al Haj Saleh doesn’t mention Obama in his criticisms; and that in an interview with The Intercept Saleh accuses most leftists of being Assad sympathisers without naming them.

Does Yassin omit Obama in his criticisms?

“Nothing could diminish the despicable crime the Obama administration has committed against Syria and its population. And history will not forget this for a long time. ”

Yes, those are Yassin’s words. He has never been shy to indict Obama or the rest of the world.

Does Yassin criticise leftists without naming them?

Yassin names and shames them where necessary. But when he is talking about general trends he has no obligation.

But let me oblige Greenwald and name one prominent leftist who is objectively pro-Assad: Glenn Greenwald.

Sorry Glenn, but that common throat clearing preamble—”Of course Assad is bad but…”—will give you only limited protection when you devote your entire time to maligning and attacking the regime’s opponents.

Let’s look at your record.

  1. You have deliberately misrepresented sources to cast Assad as the victim of a Western conspiracy. You’ve claimed that the US was arming anti-Assad rebels as far back as 2012. Except, when one follows your link, it leads to a Reuters story that reads:”The White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some U.S. allies do just that.[…] Indications are that U.S. agencies have not been involved in providing weapons to Assad’s opponents. In order to do so, Obama would have to approve a supplement, known as a “memorandum of notification, to his initial broad intelligence finding. […] The State Department said on Wednesday the U.S. government had set aside a total of $25 million for “non-lethal” assistance to the Syrian opposition. A U.S. official said that was mostly for communications equipment, including encrypted radios…The State Department also says the United States has set aside $64 million in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, including contributions to the World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other aid agencies.”
    How did this turn this into evidence of US military support for the FSA?
  2. You have effusively praised and recommended the incontinent writings of As’ad Abukhlil, a sectarian Hizbollah sympathiser whose ignorance is only exceeded by his prejudices.
  3. You defended George Galloway, an unabashed Assad supporter, for defaming the regime’s opponents as jihadists and extremists—in January 2013!
  4. Two years later, you declared that ‘the “moderate” “Free Syrian Army” was largely a myth‘, that the opposition was led by “various Al Qaeda manifestations and even more extreme elements.” Your source? Faisal Mekdad, the regime’s vice-foreign minister.
  5. Even though you were outraged by the US supply of night-vision goggles, satellite phones and MREs to Syrian rebels, when Russia launched its massive military intervention in Syria, you found it “utterly bizarre” that some people would treat it as a “scary” development. Even more shameful: your confrere was a notorious conspiracy theorist and Assad supporter who has actually cheered—yes cheered!—the murder of Syria’s first responders and who has claimed that Syrians are using child actors in atrocity enactments to defame “President Assad”.

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You have lately started to counter mentions of your pro-Assad bias by saying that you are being attacked by “both sides”. But the Assadists have attacked The Intercept, not you. And they have attacked it for the few articles published lately by Maz Hussein and Marwan Hisham. Don’t use their credibility as a fig leaf.

Your sympathies are not hard to discern. Let’s take your starkly different reactions to two articles that The Intercept published. You have objected to the Maz Hussein/Marwan Hisham interview with Yassin al Haj Saleh because you say its claims are inaccurate. Even if this were true, it is an interview and Yassin is entitled to his opinion.

Contrast that with your conspicuous silence over what was supposed to be a factual story that you published by Rania Khalek which alleged that “Internal United Nations assessments obtained by The Intercept reveal that U.S. and European sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and crippling aid work during the largest humanitarian emergency since World War II.”

Except, your report was a fabrication. As Charles Davis notes: “the report that was “obtained” was a report available freely online at least four months earlier, authored not by a U.N. official or agency but by an official, Justine Walker, at the British Bankers’ Association, an organization institutionally inclined to favor Western trade with literally whomever, capital and those who possess it not troubled by grave violations of human rights.”

You have since been forced to acknowledge this. A correction appended to the article now reads: “The report referenced was prepared for the U.N. and does not reflect the U.N.’s official position.”

But it should’t have taken our criticism for you to discover this. Had you even bothered to read the alleged “UN assessment”, it would have been clear. The page right after the title carries the unmissable disclaimer: “The views expressed are entirely those of the author and should not be considered to constitute any official statement.”

But why let facts or ethics get in the way of clickbait, eh? If it means casting Assad as the victim of sanctions while Assad is besieging and staving a whole city, so be it. Why bother speaking to the UN, which explicitly blames the regime for the sieges and starvation, when your ideological zeal demands that you exculpate a mass-killer. Nor did you seem troubled by the fact that your comrade Rania Khalek sympathises with the regime’s military and, in a bizarre attack on MSF, even denied that Aleppo was under siege. Seriously!

Your response to this embarrassing fabrication was silence. Many people, including myself, repeatedly brought this to your notice so you can’t claim to be unaware. But you haven’t withdrawn the story and its misleading headline with the false claim still remains in place.

Sorry, Glenn, but you are no truth teller. You are only a dissident because you live in a country where you know that you don’t pay a price for dissent. Yassin spent 16 years in prison for his beliefs; you got a Pulitzer and an Oscar. You have the temerity to question his credibility?


Glenn Greenwald has been dismissive of US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the US presidential election. He has alleged that this is no different than the CIA’s WMD claims back in the lead up to the Iraq war. He seems unaware that the CIA’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate registered serious doubts about Iraq’s WMDs as well as its alleged ties to Al Qaeda. This is the reason why Dick Cheney and the neocons had to establish the Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon to bypass official intelligence channels. But part of Greenwald’s shrill protestations might also have to do with the fact that his own publication, The Intercept, has been identified as one of the conduits for Russian disinformation.

Greenwald has also been dismissive of reports that the FBI acted to undermine Clinton. But in an appearance on Democracy Now! he offered a most bizarre counter theory. According to Greenwald, it wasn’t the FBI or Russia that acted against Clinton, but it was the CIA that has plotted against Trump.

The agency that has led the way in pushing these allegations about Russia, which is the CIA, there is no question that the CIA—the community of the CIA was vehemently in support of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and, with equal vehemence, opposed to Donald Trump…The CIA was very aggressively in favor of Hillary Clinton’s victory. And there’s a lot of different reasons for that, but I think the primary one is that the CIA proxy war in Syria is something that Hillary Clinton had promised not just to support, but to escalate. She was very critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s effort to support these rebels and to remove Assad, while Trump took the exact opposite position, saying, “We have no business trying to change the government of Syria. We ought to let Russia run free in Syria, kill ISIS, kill whoever else they want to kill, because we have no interest. We should keep Assad and Russia in charge of Syria.” There were other reasons, as well. So there’s no question the CIA was a political actor behind the Hillary Clinton presidency and against Donald Trump’s… So I think a lot of this is exactly what Julian said, which is the CIA is attempting to undermine and subvert Trump because they never wanted him to be president in the first place, and they’re now trying to weaken and subvert his agenda, that they oppose.

Author: Idrees Ahmad

I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

6 thoughts on “Glenn Greenwald’s Sympathy for the Devil”

  1. The moral thing to do would have been to have supported a no-fly zone over Syria when the Revolution began. Assad should have been driven out and government of national reconciliation established. Instead, the US bungled and did nothing. Syria is no longer a country it is a memory with some of its murderers standing over the body demanding its inheritance.

    Obviously Greenwald is finally seen as the moral nematode he has ever been. He can never wash off the evil that comes form support of Assad. The US sat back and watched this monstrosity develop and did nothing. We let ISIS become a regional problem. History will not be kind to the administration nor any kinder to Greenwald. The deserve contempt for their fecklessness leadership and moral cowardice.

  2. In retrospect, Greenwald’s involvement in the escape of Edward Snowden is a pro-Kremlin operation. The problem with Greenwald is that there are a large number of indirect proofs. Anyway, since 2013 he seems to have been radicalized towards the politics of the Russian Federation, just like Julian Assange.

    This lack of compass is also the problem of journalists who withdraw from the core of their profession and become more and more political activists. You could say that Assange and Greenwald should choose between political activism and journalism, if they have not actually chosen because of their radicalization from benevolently critical Western to unwilling anti-Western.

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