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The personal side of taking on the NSA: emerging smears

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

By Glenn Greenwald

June 28, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "The Guardian" --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 Guardian 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 New York Daily News 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.

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 New York Times reporter emailed me to ask about the IRS back payments. And the reporter from the Daily News 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.

Copyright The Guardian

Here Comes the Glenn Greenwald Hit Piece

By Abby Ohlheiser

June 28, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "Yahoo" -- Following a series of stunning revelations concerning the NSA's surveillance and data collection tactics, queries into Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's personal life weren't on the top of the list of pressing questions for most. But for those who did have questions about the columnist, who broke the bulk of the stories so far out of Edward Snowden's leaks, the New York Daily News is here for you. Perhaps Rep. Peter King will take a break from calling for Greenwald's prosecution and glean some new material from the story. 

Of all the reporters publishing material based on the Snowden leaks, Greenwald has faced the strongest and most public scrutiny in the media for his role in reporting the story — essentially the same treatment levied at Snowden himself almost immediately after he revealed himself as the source. 

Essentially, the Daily News revelations boil down to three broad stories: first, Greenwald's involvement as a partner in Master Notions, a company that settled a lawsuit with a former client, which just happens to be a porn company, after the company's owner refused to pay Master Notions for business consulting services.

"Owner Peter Haas “had this pornographic company he wasn't able to maintain,” Greenwald said. They agreed to help him in return for 50% of the profits. In the two months the companies worked together, “Haas made more money than he ever made before in his entire life,” Master Notion’s filings say. But Haas refused to pay the company its share of the profits, which led to a nasty legal battle...After the business relationship soured, Haas also accused Greenwald and Master Notions of having swiped his client list to market their own videos on “hairystuds.com.”

Second, Greenwald's back taxes and other apparent financial problems relating to his former law practice: 

"Filings also show he’s had some money problems...The New York County Clerk's office shows Greenwald has $126,000 in open judgments and liens against him dating back to 2000, including a total of $21,000 from the NYS Tax Dept. and the city Department of Finance.

There’s no record of those debts being paid, but Greenwald said he believes he’s all caught up — although he’s still trying to pay down an old IRS judgment against him from his lawyer days. Records show the IRS has an $85,000 lien against him."

And third, a lawsuit (also settled) having to do with the size of the dog Greenwald and his then partner kept in their West Side apartment:

"In a 2003 lawsuit, he and his then partner, Werner Achetz, were sued by their West Side condo for having a dog that was bigger than building by-laws allowed.

The couple countered that they and their dog Uli were being singled out because they were gay, a charge the building denied. The case eventually settled.

“The co-op board said the dog could stay,” he said.

Greenwald strongly denied the more salacious parts of the three stories — that, for instance, he sent bullying emails to the porn company owner using the bonkers screen name of "DomMascHry31" — while responding to the story's findings. 

He also published a longer piece of his own on Wednesday, basically pre-empting the Daily News's story: 

"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 New York Daily News 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." 

While newsworthy figures, and bombshell stories, are generally fair game for scrutiny, the Daily News doesn't exactly make the case for the relevance of any of their dirt the actual reporting that put Greenwald in the spotlight in the first place. 

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