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The Personal Side of Taking on the NSA: Emerging Smears

[bold][italic]Distractions about my past and personal life have emerged – an inevitable side effect for those who challenge the US government[/italic][/bold]

By Glenn Greenwald (06.27.2013)

When I made the choice to report aggressively on top-secret NSA programs, I knew that I would inevitably be the target of all sorts of personal attacks and smears. You don't challenge the most powerful state on earth and expect to do so without being attacked. As a superb [italic]Guardian[/italic] editorial noted today: "Those who leak official information will often be denounced, prosecuted or smeared. The more serious the leak, the fiercer the pursuit and the greater the punishment."

One of the greatest honors I've had in my years of writing about politics is the opportunity to work with and befriend my long-time political hero, Daniel Ellsberg. I never quite understood why the Nixon administration, in response to his release of the Pentagon Papers, would want to break into the office of Ellsberg's psychoanalyst and steal his files. That always seemed like a non sequitur to me: how would disclosing Ellsberg's most private thoughts and psychosexual assessments discredit the revelations of the Pentagon Papers?

When I asked Ellsberg about that several years ago, he explained that the state uses those tactics against anyone who dissents from or challenges it simply to distract from the revelations and personally smear the person with whatever they can find to make people uncomfortable with the disclosures.

So I've been fully expecting those kinds of attacks since I began my work on these NSA leaks. The recent journalist-led "debate" about whether I should be prosecuted for my reporting on these stories was precisely the sort of thing I knew was coming.

As a result, I was not particularly surprised when I received an email last night from a reporter at the [italic]New York Daily News[/italic] informing me that he had been "reviewing some old lawsuits" in which I was involved – "old" as in: more than a decade ago – and that "the paper wants to do a story on this for tomorrow". He asked that I call him right away to discuss this, apologizing for the very small window he gave me to comment.

Upon calling him, I learned that he had somehow discovered two events from my past. The first was my 2002-04 participation in a multi-member LLC that had an interest in numerous businesses, including the distribution of adult videos. I was bought out of that company by my partners roughly nine years ago.

by Anonymousreply 907/08/2013

The lawsuit he referenced was one where the LLC had sued a video producer in (I believe) 2002 after the producer reneged on a profit-sharing contract. In response, that producer fabricated abusive and ugly emails he claimed were from me – they were not – in order to support his allegation that I had bullied him into entering into that contract and he should therefore be relieved from adhering to it. Once our company threatened to retain a forensic expert to prove that the emails were forgeries, the producer quickly settled the case by paying some substantial portion of what was owed, and granting the LLC the rights to use whatever it had obtained when consulting with him to start its own competing business.

The second item the reporter had somehow obtained was one showing an unpaid liability to the IRS stemming, it appears, from some of the last years of my law practice. I've always filed all of my tax returns and there's no issue of tax evasion or fraud. It's just back taxes for which my lawyers have been working to reach a payment agreement with the IRS.

Just today, a [italic]New York Times[/italic] reporter emailed me to ask about the IRS back payments. And the reporter from the [italic]Daily News[/italic] sent another email asking about a student loan judgment which was in default over a decade ago and is now covered by a payment plan agreement.

So that's the big discovery: a corporate interest in adult videos (something the LLC shared with almost every hotel chain), fabricated emails, and some back taxes and other debt.

I'm 46 years old and, like most people, have lived a complicated and varied adult life. I didn't manage my life from the age of 18 onward with the intention of being a Family Values US senator. My personal life, like pretty much everyone's, is complex and sometimes messy.

If journalists really believe that, in response to the reporting I'm doing, these distractions about my past and personal life are a productive way to spend their time, then so be it.

None of that – or anything else – will detain me even for an instant in continuing to report on what the NSA is doing in the dark.

by Anonymousreply 106/27/2013

He's unattractive. Let's discuss that instead.

by Anonymousreply 206/27/2013

Picking on this guy -- and not focusing on secret Government spying programs -- is exactly what they want you to do. Don't care about him, or Snowden, I want the truth from the Government about their 'programs'. And the 'programs' being sanctioned by secret courts and therefore 'legal' is not god enough.

by Anonymousreply 306/27/2013

I'm afraid to say something against NSA. I might somehow end up dead or become a terrorist supporter without even knowing. Who knows what the govt. can do to me. I'm from the middle east, I could end up in jail for saying anything against this shitty thing, and people won't believe anything I say because of my muslim look.

by Anonymousreply 406/27/2013

Look, taking down this corrupt government organization is going require MANY Heros, who will pay a high personal price, but make the world a better place in return. Snowden and Assange are just the first 2.

Think of how many Heros it took to break the Nazis and realize they were not nearly as powerful as the NSA/US Government.

by Anonymousreply 506/27/2013


I'm sorry you "look Muslim" but buck up and stand tall.

When the Stasi...I mean FBI come for you and your family, skin color and religion won't matter.

An Arab that loves DC will be better off than a white Christian that has a bunch of guns.

by Anonymousreply 606/30/2013


I neglected to mention that creating a network of friends that are "pro-liberty" like the people at will give you a good buffer if they do come after you.

The NSA bullshit has really ticked Ron Paul off, and he's rolling out a few things later this summer to help us little guys fight back.

Sex, religion, skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation --- none of that shit matters to people that want to restore liberty to the US. I was shocked by the radical diversity when I attended the first MeetUp group for Ron Paul- the mix of age, color, status, etc.- every sub-group (except elderly disabled black lesbian Muslims) was represented, and they were all united by their desire to make the world better for everyone by getting government out of the mix.

by Anonymousreply 707/03/2013

I'm sure it sucks for Muslims to type anything for their Chemical class anymore.

Imagine the police cars and FBI and the helicopters show up because you searched up some chemicals that are related in making bombs.


by Anonymousreply 807/03/2013


I've re-read your post a few times.

The fact that you (apparently) want to speak out about government crimes, but fear the consequences- up to and including murder- is testament to how dangerous our government has become.

I will not be cowed, worshiping at the boots that stand on my neck.

Fuck Bu$h, fuck Obama, and fuck the US Government. They are the biggest terrorists on the planet.

by Anonymousreply 907/08/2013
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