Did the Justice Department Really “Bad-Mouth” Glenn Greenwald to Muslim Leaders? Uh, Nope.

More Greenwald distortions exposed
US News • Views: 25,830

At the Washington Post, Erik Wemple fact checks one of the more inflammatory claims in the latest Glenn Greenwald article about alleged NSA/FBI spying on American Muslim leaders: that the Justice Department went around to Muslim groups before the story was even written, warning them Greenwald’s article was full of errors and misrepresentations. Would you be terribly surprised to find out Greenwald’s claims are … false? You wouldn’t?

This is the paragraph in question in The Intercept’s story:

The Justice Department did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story, or for clarification about why the five men’s email addresses appear on the list. But in the weeks before the story was published, The Intercept learned that officials from the department were reaching out to Muslim-American leaders across the country to warn them that the piece would contain errors and misrepresentations, even though it had not yet been written.

Wemple contacted Greenwald to ask for more information on this claim, and Greenwald responded:

He said that the remarks of the officials were “designed to poison our relationship with people in the Muslim community by bad-mouthing us and saying this story is inaccurate before it’s even written. They literally did it before we put pen to paper,” says Greenwald.

Wow, the US government “bad-mouthed” the Mighty Greenwald?! How dare they? The noive!

However, when Wemple reached out to Muslim-American groups and the Justice Department, he discovered that the truth was exactly opposite to the way Greenwald portrayed it. Muslim leaders had heard rumors about Greenwald’s upcoming article, and they specifically asked the Justice Department to discuss the issue.

According to these community leaders and the Justice Department, there was indeed a July 1 gathering at the main Justice building, part of a regular series of quarterly meetings convened by Justice’s civil rights division that date back more than a decade. Though the get-together preceded publication of the Greenwald-Hussain story, Muslim American community leaders had heard about the goods that The Intercept had acquired. And so it was they, and not the Justice Department, who insisted on discussing the pending story. A letter from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), in fact, specifically asked that the surveillance issue be placed on the meeting’s agenda.

Wemple posts a screenshot of the ADC’s letter to the DOJ, asking that the surveillance issue be discussed at this regular meeting. So now we know that: 1) this meeting was not an unusual occurrence, but one of a series of regularly scheduled meetings that have been going on for many years, and 2) the Muslim groups themselves asked to discuss Greenwald’s pending article at the meeting, not the other way around.

But what about the claim that Justice Department officials “bad-mouthed” Greenwald’s story and warned these Muslim groups it would contain “errors and misrepresentations?” Again, Greenwald is playing fast and loose with the truth:

According to various participants, the government officials who spoke to the Muslim-surveillance issue — primarily National Security Agency General Counsel Raj De and FBI General Counsel James Baker — walked the attendees through an explanation of the legal structure designed to protect Americans from surveillance. One of the officials reportedly counseled the group, “Just don’t make assumptions. Please think about what you read based on what the legal structure is.”

Abed A. Ayoub, the ADC’s director of legal and policy affairs, confirms that’s how things went down. At the same time, Ayoub vouched for the accuracy of the Greenwald-Hussain description of the proceedings. “What we were told was to look at the legal framework of the way the surveillance took place … the FISA courts and so forth,” says Ayoub, who insists that the “legal framework is part of the problem and we need to seriously address this.”

ADC National President Samer Khalaf says of the message from government officials: “It wasn’t that they were saying it was false. They were saying they can’t respond to a story that wasn’t out yet.” When asked about alleged warnings of errors and misrepresentations, Khalaf says that the government reps said that the article may not represent the “full scope of the program.”

Again, Greenwald’s account is shocking and inflammatory… and entirely dishonest and self-serving.

This is the case with almost every one of Greenwald’s articles; a batch of wildly incendiary accusations that fall apart and are shown to be false, distorted, or exaggerated in the following 48 hours after publication. This isn’t journalism — it’s propaganda.

You have to wonder why other journalists rarely do the job Wemple did in this case. Are they afraid of Greenwald’s slash-and-burn smear tactics against critics, or simply more interested in the clicks and pageviews they know his fear-mongering pieces will drive to their websites?

UPDATE at 7/12/14 12:28:55 pm by Charles Johnson

The Intercept’s editor John Cook responds to Erik Wemple’s debunking with: For the Record: Yes, the Government Really Did Trash-Talk Our FISA Story.

His evidence to back up this headline is… well, he doesn’t present any evidence. He posts several emails and text messages he sent to the Justice Department, making the same assertion Wemple debunked, but absolutely nothing to show that “the government really did trash-talk” their story. Read it for yourself. He simply doesn’t back up his claim at all.

it’s getting a bit ridiculous.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2016-01-01 10:29 am PST
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Recent PagesClick to refresh
Climate Scientist Faces Off With the Virulently Anti-Science House Science Committee At a congressional hearing on climate science Wednesday, Michael Mann lamented that he was the only witness representing the overwhelming scientific consensus that manmade global warming poses a major threat. "We find ourselves at this hearing today, with three ...
teleskiguy
5 minutes ago
Views: 23 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
America Now Lacks Anyone to Govern Image: 2017-01-03T190025Z_1_LYNXMPED020UR_RTROPTP_3_USA-TRUMP.jpg Author: Robert Reich America is in a crisis of governance. No adult is in charge. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, in his press conference following the demise of his bill to replace Obamacare, blamed Republicans who ...
Cheechako
3 hours, 1 minute ago
Views: 71 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Tuffs Not Enuff PageThe tools of economics, science and law applied to well-known public policy issues. Where the Alt-Right and other interests sell doubt, we do what we can to construct sharp problem definitions and reach equally sharp conclusions. Evidence matters.
tuffsnotenuff
1 day, 5 hours ago
Views: 142 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
No, My Right to Abortion Did Not Cost Hillary the Election Yesterday, New York Times op-ed contributor and religious professor Thomas Groome popped up as the latest in a long line of bros getting it wrong at our newspaper of record about what cost Hillary the election. His take? Trump ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 9 hours ago
Views: 206 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
The Fred Rogers Company Statement Regarding Federal Funding for Public Broadcasting For more than two generations of Americans, The Fred Rogers Company has partnered with CPB and PBS to share what Fred Rogers called an “expression of care” for children and families through broadcast and digital media as well as ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 9 hours ago
Views: 161 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 1
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
What’s Missing in Our Coverage of South Sudan’s Civil War In South Sudan, a civil war has now entered its fourth year of tearing open ethnic divisions and displacing millions. Since its onset in 2013, the conflict has threatened to pave a path to genocide and has led to ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 11 hours ago
Views: 176 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Faux-Science- -Inside the Academic Journal That Corporations Love - Pacific Standard A recent lawsuit against Monsanto offers a clear and troubling view into industry strategies that warp research for corporate gain. In a lawsuit regarding the possible carcinogenicity of the pesticide Roundup, plaintiffs’ lawyers suing Monsanto charge the company with ...
Birth Control Works
1 day, 11 hours ago
Views: 183 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 1
Comments: 0
: 1
Cowboy Cookies Recipe - NYT Cooking Ingredients 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 tablespoon baking soda 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon salt 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature 1 ½ cups granulated sugar 1 ½ cups packed light-brown ...
The Vicious Babushka
1 day, 15 hours ago
Views: 203 • Comments: 1 • Rating: 2
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Foreigners Behind California Breakup Effortssalon.com Two Brexit British operators hired to promote Cali-Divorce, Russia behind efforts on both Left and Right to break apart California. This is consistent with higher ups in the Russian Government and Military publicly stating their desire to break apart ...
Rocky-in-Connecticut
1 day, 15 hours ago
Views: 187 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 0 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0
Timothy Caughman’s Murder Was a Lynching in Trump’s America. Just another day in Trumpmerica. The first thread that binds this killing to past lynchings is Jackson’s motivation. The self-proclaimed white supremacist told police that he hated black men in particular for their relationships with white women, a harkening ...
Tarkloon
3 days, 10 hours ago
Views: 484 • Comments: 0 • Rating: 0
Tweets: 1 • Share to Facebook
Shares: 0
Comments: 0
: 0