Tuesday Reads: The Agony of Glenn Greenwald, The Ickiness of Ted Cruz, & Other News


Good Morning!!

As of yesterday, we’ve reached the point with the NSA leaks story that the entire focus is on Glenn Greenwald and his martyrdom. Even Edward Snowden has now faded into the background.

On Sunday, Greenwald’s domestic partner David Miranda was detained for nine hours by UK authorities as he passed through Heathrow Airport on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro where he and Greenwald live. Miranda was finally released, but his laptop, an external hard drive, a number of memory sticks and other electronic devices were confiscated. Greenwald reacted by threatening the UK government with harmful revelations from the Snowden stash.

As with previous Greenwald stories, this one quickly evolved from a tale of horrendous government repression as reported by the Guardian to a more complex story reported by other news outlets–forcing the Guardian to walk back or provide more details on aspects of its original reporting. Bob Cesca does a good job of summarizing the process.

Like most people, Cesca was at first shocked by the news of Miranda’s detention. Then he began reading the stories under the headlines.

When I read The Guardian‘s article about the incident, however, more questions popped up — as with much of The Guardian‘s reporting on this topic, the publication’s tendency for coy, smoke-and-mirrors reporting invariably raises more questions than it answers. The article was credited to “Guardian staff,” for one, there weren’t any quotes from Miranda himself and the only source for the article appeared to be Greenwald, who, from my experience covering this story, tends to be incendiary and misleading.

The wailing and garment rending was underway — the predictable group freakout we’re forced to endure every time a new article is published. Greenwald himself wrote that the U.K. authorities were actually worse than the Mafia because the Mafia doesn’t target family members. (Clearly, Greenwald knows less about the Mafia than he does about political realities or history.)

An aside: Cesca coined the term “the 24 hour rule” after a the first few Greenwald NSA “bombshells.”

The 24 Hour Rule: 1) A wild claim is made via a news article, most often The Guardian, about the U.S. government or related entities. 2) The article sparks wild fits of outrage. 3) Then, within 24 hours, a mitigating detail is added, undermining or totally debunking one or more of the central claims contained with the article. Related quote: “A lie can travel half-way around the world before the truth gets its pants on.”

Back to Cesca’s take on the Miranda story:

As the hours rolled by, Charlie Savage, reporting for The New York Timesbegan to revealmore details about the trip — details which The Guardian mysteriously didn’t include in either of its articles….

First, we learned from The New York Times that The Guardian financed Miranda’s trip to Germany and back. This means Miranda was conducting some sort of official business for the publication. Around the same time, Amnesty International referred to Miranda as “a Guardian newspaper employee.” Combined with the Laura Poitras detail, it’s obvious that Miranda was commissioned to do some serious leg-work on the Snowden/NSA reporting, the extent of which was unknown at the time.

And then, late in the evening east coast time, The New York Times revealed the purpose of Miranda’s trip to Berlin:

Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald. Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.

So Miranda, Greenwald’s spouse, served as a paid courier to transfer stolen, top secret national security documents from Greenwald to Poitras, and from Poitras back to Greenwald.

While I’m not defending UK authorities for their ham-handed treatment of Miranda–and neither is Cesca–it’s really not surprising that Miranda was stopped and questioned. It also later came out that Miranda had been offered an attorney, but he refused the offer (Greenwald had originally said his partner was refused access to legal advice). From The Guardian on Monday:

He was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities. The questions, he said, were relentless – about Greenwald, Snowden, Poitras and a host of other apparently random subjects.

“They even asked me about the protests in Brazil, why people were unhappy and who I knew in the government,” said Miranda.

He got his first drink – from a Coke machine in the corridor – after eight hours and was eventually released almost an hour later. Police records show he had been held from 08.05 to 17.00.

The questions about the Brazilian government weren’t actually that outrageous, since Glenn Greenwald had contacted high level officials there and they had tried to intervene.

So the “24-hour rule” still holds. This entire story turned around in 24 hours, but many news outlets are still reporting information that is either wholly or partially untrue. After it became clear that their original reporting on the Miranda detention was problematic, the Guardian released another bombshell article written by Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusberger in which he claims that two months ago GCHQ (Britain’s version of NSA) agents forced the Guardian to destroy their hard drives and computers unless they turned over their NSA materials. Again Bob Cesca has a good summary. Please read the whole thing if you can–it’s not long.

We’ll have to wait another day to see if this story also morphs into something different. Cesca has a list of questions for Rusberger. My big question is why wasn’t this reported immediately after it happened, and why didn’t the Guardian go to court over it?

And so Glenn Greenwald and his victimization remain the center of international attention. I have to wonder why Greenwald arranged for his partner to travel through Heathrow in the first place. Was he deliberately inviting something like this? He couldn’t have asked for better free publicity that he and the Guardian are getting right now.

Meanwhile, any discussion of NSA spying is hindered by so much inaccurate information; yet the NSA story is distracting Americans from focusing on equally important and even more pressing issues like jobs, the economy, voting rights, the war on women’s autonomy, the environment, and the upheavals in the Middle East. So now I’ll move on to some other news–I’ll add more links on the Miranda story in the comments.

In other news,

The Atlantic has a good story on economic inequality: Are the Rich Getting Too Much of the Economic Pie?

When one of you asked, “Are the rich getting too much of the economic pie?” the team behindEconomics in Plain English got pretty excited. Because you said “pie.” So we headed toDangerously Delicious Pies in northeast Washington, D.C., with business editor Derek Thompson to explain income inequality over dessert. We ordered three pies — peanut butter, blueberry, and something amazing called the “Baltimore Bomb” — to make three charts that illustrate the income and wealth gap in the U.S. We’re not the first to mix math and pastry, as we discovered recently, but we hope this video offers a tasty perspective on a complex economic question.

Watch the video–and others by the same group–at the link.

In Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has been indicted in the 2007 murder of Benazir Bhutto

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Pakistani court indicted Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday in connection with the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the first time that a former military leader has faced criminal proceedings in Pakistan.

The court in Rawalpindi, near the capital, Islamabad, filed three charges against Mr. Musharraf, including murder and conspiracy to murder, said a prosecutor, Chaudhry Muhammed Azhar.

Mr. Musharraf, who has maintained that the charges against him are politically motivated, pleaded not guilty, his lawyers said. Reporters were excluded from the hearing. Afterward, police commandos and paramilitary rangers escorted Mr. Musharraf back to his villa on the edge of Islamabad, where he has been under house arrest since April in connection with other cases stemming from his rule from 1999 to 2008.

The sight of a once untouchable general being called to account by a court had a potent symbolism in a country that has been ruled by the military for about half of its 66-year history. While the military remains deeply powerful, the prosecution has sent the message that Pakistan’s top generals are subject to the rule of law — at least after they have retired.

In Egypt, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has been arrested. The LA Times reports:

CAIRO — Egyptian authorities early Tuesday arrested the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, another demoralizing blow to the Islamist organization amid a crackdown by the military to silence dissent and build support for its control of the nation.

Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie was arrested in a Cairo apartment. Dressed in a gray tunic, the 70-year-old spiritual leader looked shaken, sitting next to a bottle of water in police custody. The image distilled the desperation the world’s most influential Islamist organization faces against an army that appears determined to crush it.

Most of the Brotherhood’s top leaders, including Khairat Shater, its chief strategist and financier, and former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown in a coup last month, are in detention or have gone underground. Much of the group’s strategy appears to have shifted to the Anti-Coup Alliance, an umbrella group the Brotherhood organized to protest Morsi’s downfall.

The army’s crackdown on the Brotherhood has been ferocious. Police raids on two Brotherhood sit-ins last week and the protests and violence that ensured killed more than 900 Morsi supporters, many of them shot by live ammunition fired by security forces that have shown little restraint.

“When the hand of oppression extends to arrest this important symbol,” the Brotherhood said in a statement regarding Badie, “that means the military coup has used up everything in its pocket and is readying to depart.”

I’ll be honest–I’m really clueless about what’s going on in Egypt right now. I just hope the situation doesn’t descend into a Syria-like civil war.

Texas Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz is back in the news. The Dallas Morning News revealed yesterday that Cruz holds dual citizenship in the US and Canada.

Born in Canada to an American mother, Ted Cruz became an instant U.S. citizen. But under Canadian law, he also became a citizen of that country the moment he was born.

Unless the Texas Republican senator formally renounces that citizenship, he will remain a citizen of both countries, legal experts say.

That means he could assert the right to vote in Canada or even run for Parliament. On a lunch break from the U.S. Senate, he could head to the nearby embassy — the one flying a bright red maple leaf flag — pull out his Calgary, Alberta, birth certificate and obtain a passport.

“He’s a Canadian,” said Toronto lawyer Stephen Green, past chairman of the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section.

The circumstances of Cruz’s birth have fueled a simmering debate over his eligibility to run for president. Knowingly or not, dual citizenship is an apparent if inconvenient truth for the tea party firebrand, who shows every sign he’s angling for the White House.

Cruz has decided to renounce his Canadian citizenship, according to CNN:

“Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was 4 and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter,” Cruz wrote in his statement.

“Now the Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship,” he continued. “Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth, and as a U.S. Senator, I believe I should be only an American.”

Too bad he didn’t decide to run for office in Canada. I guess we’re stuck with him now.

I’ll end with this Daily Beast story about what Ted Cruz Princeton roommates recall about him. Some excerpts:

When Craig Mazin first met his freshman roommate, Rafael Edward Cruz, he knew the 17-year-old Texan was not like other students at Princeton, or probably anywhere else for that matter.

“I remember very specifically that he had a book in Spanish and the title was Was Karl Marx a Satanist? And I thought, who is this person?” Mazin says of Ted Cruz. “Even in 1988, he was politically extreme in a way that was surprising to me.” [….]

“It was my distinct impression that Ted had nothing to learn from anyone else,” said Erik Leitch, who lived in Butler College with Cruz. Leitch said he remembers Cruz as someone who wanted to argue over anything or nothing, just for the exercise of arguing. “The only point of Ted talking to you was to convince you of the rightness of his views.”

In addition to Mazin and Leitch, several fellow classmates who asked that their names not be used described the young Cruz with words like “abrasive,” “intense,” “strident,” “crank,” and “arrogant.” Four independently offered the word “creepy,” with some pointing to Cruz’s habit of donning a paisley bathrobe and walking to the opposite end of their dorm’s hallway where the female students lived.

“I would end up fielding the [girls’] complaints: ‘Could you please keep your roommate out of our hallway?'” Mazin says.


OK, now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.

29 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: The Agony of Glenn Greenwald, The Ickiness of Ted Cruz, & Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Author Elmore Leonard dies at 87.

    The writer suffered a stroke on July 29.

    His researcher wrote on Leonard’s official Facebook page: “The post I dreaded to write, and you dreaded to read. Elmore passed away at 7:15 this morning from complications from his stroke. He was at home surrounded by his loving family.”

    Among Leonar’ds best-known works are Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk and Rum Punch. Leonard stories include ones that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the FX TV series, Justified.

    Stephen King called New Orleans-born Leonard, who cited Hemingway as an important influence on his work, as “the great American writer.”

  2. bostonboomer says:

    CNN: Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda threatens to take legal action


  3. bostonboomer says:

    Barnes and Noble is still struggling financially: Barnes & Noble Chairman Drops Bid to Buy Its Bookstores

    Barnes & Noble‘s chairman, Leonard Riggio, disclosed in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that he had dropped efforts to buy the company’s bookstores.

    The move raises further questions about the bookseller’s future after it previously announced plans to stop making its line of Nook color tablets.

    Mr. Riggio first announced plans to bid for the company’s 675 physical stores in February, in a move that would have essentially split the company in half. It was unclear how much he was willing to pay, but the board had at one point been unwilling to consider anything significantly short of $1 billion.

    Since the emergence of Mr. Riggio’s efforts, however, Barnes & Noble has found itself under more pressure. Beyond the end of its Nook tablet business, the company has grappled with a number of disappointing earnings reports and the departure of its chief executive, William J. Lynch Jr.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Why does being a relative of Glenn Greenwald place you above the law?

    Presumably, Miranda was asked – as we all are at security – “have you been asked to carry anything for anyone else?” To which, if he was being honest, he should have replied: “Yes. But I don’t know what it is. Could be to do with a film. Could be highly classified national security files. Can’t be sure.”

    But let’s assume he didn’t. Maybe in the excitement of his trip he’d forgotten he was carrying information that could potentially destroy the entire security apparatus of the Western world. We’ve all done it, especially if we’re rushing to get to duty free.

    So Miranda arrives at Heathrow. The UK intelligence services are aware of his movements, because that’s what intelligence services do. What’s more, they know he’s potentially carrying highly classified information that, if it fell into the wrong hands, could seriously compromise UK national security.

    We know that the release of this information would be damaging, for two reasons. The first is because Glenn Greenwald boasted that it would. On hearing of his partner’s detention, Greenwald said: “I am going to publish many more documents. I am going to publish things on England too. I have many documents on England’s spy system. I think they will be sorry for what they did.” Whatever Miranda was carrying, it had the potential to make an entire nation (with due apologies to our Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish cousins) sorry.

    • RalphB says:

      Most commentors at Pierce’s blog would eat a shit sandwich and call it delicious, if it were served up by Greenwald. The willful blindness is fucking disgusting.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think most people just read headlines and then freak out.

        • RalphB says:

          Yep. There’s absolutely no evidence of any follow up information getting through. Most still think Snowden/Greenwald have been completely right about everything.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Very good summary of yesterday’s Greenwald/Miranda saga by a British journalist.

    The Smears of Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian

  6. peej says:

    Thanks for a number of great reads, BB. I have to admit that I’m pretty confused about Egypt too. I haven’t solidified an opinion on it. That Benazir Bhutto’s assassination hasn’t been entirely swept under the rug is encouraging. I don’t know as much about Bhutto as I should. She’s one figure I do want to know more about, so thank you for putting her back on the radar for me in terms of my ever-growing “to-do” list.

    As to Greenwald/Guardian/Miranda… I think my biggest take-away lately is noting that with the help of Greenwald, the Guardian has really done a number on itself. Given the decades-long tabloidization of British journalism, the Guardian was one beacon that lifted itself above the mountainous garbage-rag press heap. But the odd thing about it, to my mind, is that prior to the sensationalist aspect the Snowden-Greenwald stories brought to the paper, the previous and slower decay of the Guardian was marked by its shift from dynamic, comprehensive, informative reporting to a more sterile, truncated format. The latter I’ve lamented for a while – maybe over the last year or two. So this Greenwaldian, and what I would call without reservation, propagandist shift seems to me kind of a peculiar juxtaposition. I don’t know what to make of it.

    A couple of other passing thoughts: I can’t concur with the assessment of the UK’s handling of Miranda as ham-handed if recent history – the Thatcher years – is to be our guide. Ham-handed authority in the UK I would mark by how the government randomly detained non-UK LGBT partners – detained them as long or longer than Miranda, strip searched them, rifled through their personal belongings and correspondences, and expelled them from the UK. Amnesty International’s mischaracterization of “random” detention in Miranda’s case has caused me to seriously re-evaluate Amnesty International.

    This final thought may be neither here nor there, but it’s one of those bells ringing off-key in the back of my mind. And that is, why Miranda would layover at Heathrow rather than the most obvious and seemingly convenient hubs on the continent – Berlin surely, or even Schipol in Amsterdam. There could be an obvious and innocuous logistical answer to this question, but I haven’t seen it addressed. Since it is now confirmed that Miranda was operating under the authority of the Guardian as a courier for Poitras and Greenwald, I can’t help but wonder if there is something more logistically significant for a London to Brazil flight.

    • RalphB says:

      As far as the Guardian is concerned, I would bet large sums of money are coming from Libertarians, like the Kochs, for influence. The results are working marvelously for them.

    • RalphB says:

      By the way, I imagine Miranda went through Heathrow to set up exactly what happened. It revitalized the whole set of stories just as they were cooling off.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I find it difficult to understand why they set up his connection there unless it was an “op” to get more publicity.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Three “bored” Oklahoma teenagers shoot and kill a 22-year-old college student and baseball player “for the fun of it.” The victim was from Australia, attending college on a scholarship.


  8. dakinikat says:


    Ron Paul, will be joining the president of the John Birch Society to address one of the most virulent antisemitic groups in North America: Ron Paul, Birch President to Speak at Anti-Semitic Conference.