Glenn Greenwald and Pierre Omidyar: Retract and Apologize for Smearing PJ Media, Misleading The Intercept's Readers
Last November, PJ Media’s Patrick Poole broke the story that Turkey had arrested U.S. citizen Saadiq Long during a raid on an ISIS cell. Poole’s piece brought negative attention upon Glenn Greenwald -- the leftist media figure known for having aided Edward Snowden -- because in 2013, Greenwald, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, CAIR, and others had reported that Saadiq Long had been unjustly placed on the U.S. “No Fly” list. Greenwald claimed that “Islamophobia” was responsible.
Greenwald chose to respond to Poole’s article with a several thousand-word article making the serious accusation that PJ Media had “fabricated” the story. That there was no terror raid, that Long was simply visiting Turkey with his family to tour and to seek job opportunities, and that Long had actually been held for -- of course -- being on the “No Fly” list.
We reviewed Poole’s information and sourcing, and examined Greenwald’s response. We found that Poole had reported the evidence exactly as it read.
We also found that the evidence revealed Greenwald had filled his article with subtly misleading and inconsistent claims, which we could only assume were intentional. So we wrote a lengthy, detailed response to Greenwald’s article accusing us of "fabrication." Robert Spencer, PJ Media contributor and editor of JihadWatch, wrote of our response:
[Leaves] his "fabrication" claim a smoking ruin. This is an extraordinary piece that lays bare the full extent of Greenwald’s dishonest spin and subtle concealing of the truth.
After reviewing the evidence and getting a fuller assessment of the situation, we had reason to believe the further details of Long’s arrest that confirm Poole's original reporting and contradict Greenwald's were likely to become public sooner or later. At such a time, Poole would be able to revisit the story and put a firm end to Greenwald’s smear of “fabrication.”
Indeed, on January 2 the Arabic-language outlet Tahrir News was able to confirm Poole’s original report: they wrote that Saadiq Long had been arrested during a raid on an ISIS cell, and that all eight people arrested were suspected of belonging to ISIS. Tahrir News added an additional, and major, detail that Poole had not reported: two of the eight were already known by Turkish authorities as ISIS operatives.
Then, as expected, last week brought further confirmation of Poole’s reporting -- this time, it came in the form of a legal brief filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The DOJ brief regarding the Saadiq Long case contained plenty of evidence and details that contradicted Greenwald’s version of events, and completely eliminated Greenwald's claim of "fabrication" since the DOJ attorneys, through their own channels, had received the exact same information about a terror raid.
For starters, here are some major points from the DOJ brief:
- The Turkish National Police had received a call on their terror tip line about the presence of an ISIS cell in the area, and then conducted a raid.
- Turkish officials could find no record that Long and his family had legally entered Turkey.
- Long was picked up in Gaziantep, which for several years now has been the prime corridor for ISIS traversal between Turkey and Syria. Don't take our word for it on Gaziantep: numerous U.S. government and international sources, plus the New York Times, the New Yorker, and others, are responsible for that claim. In particular, the New Yorker described U.S. officials portraying a stay by a Westerner in Gaziantep -- for even a few hours -- as being a mortal danger. The New Yorker added that “Americans in Gaziantep have been warned that ISIS operatives are tracking the activities of Westerners.”
Recall, Greenwald claimed this Westerner, this American citizen, deliberately exposed his wife and kids to this horror for the purposes of tourism and to find new job opportunities.
The DOJ brief not only eliminated Greenwald's charge of "fabrication," it rendered Greenwald's claim of a family vacation/job search -- one that would have begun with his family illegally crossing into Turkey, and have ended while accompanied by two known ISIS operatives in ISIStown -- absurd beyond any rational analysis.
After the release of the DOJ brief, Poole was finally able to write an article about the now-public details, putting a neat bow on the whole incident.
Note that Poole finishes the article by asking the following about Greenwald:
Will Greenwald and Hayes pretend that our original reporting has not been confirmed, that the conditions and location of his arrest don't render Long's tale of job-seeking and Islamophobia not credible to a rational observer?
Poole guessed Greenwald might, when presented with the opportunity to apologize, instead run with option “pretend.”
Folks, I'm here wasting yet another afternoon eliminating a Glenn Greenwald smear of PJ Media, as his latest dispatch leads us to believe that a conscious decision to “pretend” is exactly what happened.
On Monday, Greenwald posted an article titled: "U.S. Air Force Veteran, Smeared as 'an ISIS Fighter,' Just Returned to the U.S."
His article makes zero mention of Poole's analysis, as if it doesn't exist elsewhere on the internet where readers of his article looking for further coverage might come across it and discover Greenwald glossed over virtually every detail of the story.
His article makes zero mention of the Tahrir News article, as if his readers couldn't easily locate that, either.
He only mentions the DOJ brief -- but only to link to it, and to provide carefully selected pullquotes that give the reader the impression the remaining 99% or so of the brief exonerates Long, confirms Greenwald's reporting, and damns PJ Media.
Suppose Intercept readers actually click on that link to the DOJ brief, and read it for themselves? Or do some follow-up on Google to see if the story has spread elsewhere?
Greenwald seems to have taken that risk to his reputation.
Here’s what we can say: we obviously can’t attest to Greenwald having read the entire DOJ brief. We can’t say with any certainty that Greenwald ever read the Tahrir News article.
However, we feel very comfortable informing The Intercept’s readers that we assume Greenwald, in all likelihood, did read Poole’s article last week, was thus exposed to the arguments raised within that referenced those two sources, and then chose to ignore them, concealing them from The Intercept's readers while he -- yet again -- smeared PJ Media with the serious charge of “fabrication.”
Why do we feel comfortable saying we think he probably read Poole's article?
Because when it comes to discretion, he’s learned little from Edward Snowden.
Despite not addressing one word of Poole’s article, Greenwald’s article links to the copy of the DOJ brief posted on …
Patrick Poole’s personal Scribd account.
A link Greenwald likely would never have known existed, much less copied and used, had he not read Poole’s latest article.
As of this writing, the link is still there.
Intercept readers, we’ve emailed Ebay founder and benefactor of The Intercept, Pierre Omidyar, to ask for comment.
Does Omidyar still feel comfortable with Greenwald’s professional integrity and competence after he: smeared PJ Media for "fabricating"; reported on the DOJ brief in a manner no intellectually honest, objective reader might; neglected to mention that the site he was attacking yet again had -- days earlier -- responded with analysis that effectively rebutted his charges; and that his pleading ignorance of that article now would be a tough sell considering -- whoops -- his article links to Poole's personal Scribd account, a link only found elsewhere on the internet within Poole's piece?
Does Omidyar have any words of defense to offer about Greenwald regarding this incident with PJ Media, considering the millions he has invested in The Intercept puts his own reputation at risk, too?
While we wait to hear back from Omidyar:
Please read below.
We've prepared a detailed, extensive list for everyone -- but primarily for The Intercept's readers -- of information they would have never been made aware of regarding the Saadiq Long situation and PJ Media's actual coverage of it had their only source been The Intercept and Glenn Greenwald.
1. Greenwald, yet again, contended that Long was taken in only as a result of a visa issue spurred by his placement on the “No Fly” list -- but this doesn't match with the DOJ brief.
From the start, Long and his family were held only in a deportation center after the Turkish government claimed he intended to stay in the country without the proper visa -- largely due to the fact that he was on the U.S.’s no-fly list.
In reality, the DOJ brief is clear: it states that a call to a Turkish National Police terror tip line prompted them to investigate, and then to conduct a raid on a suspected ISIS cell. Greenwald made no mention of this.
2. The brief says that The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was unable to find any evidence that Long had entered Turkey legally.
The brief does not simply say that Long did not have “the proper visa” to remain in the country. It insinuates that Long was not overstaying his welcome at all -- because there was no evidence of any welcome. Greenwald made no mention of this.
3. The DOJ filing specifically says Long was arrested in ISIS stronghold Gaziantep.
Greenwald made no mention of the significance of this. Poole did -- here's Poole reporting on Gaziantep from last week:
Both the Justice Department brief in response to Long's lawsuit and an attached declaration by a FBI legal attache in Turkey state that the arrest of Long and his family in Gaziantep occurred at the same time that Turkish National Police were making numerous arrests following an October 10 ISIS suicide bombing in Ankara.
It's important context to note exactly where Long and his family were arrested.
Long's attorneys -- and Greenwald -- claimed that Long was just looking for work and touring Turkey, where he had served in the U.S. Air Force.
But Gaziantep has for several years been known as an ISIS terror hub.
A U.S. official described Gaziantep to me as a "no-man's land" for Westerners; the New York Times concurs. Last March, the Times published a dispatch from the city on ISIS movement through the area, and other international media have reported that Gaziantep was the crucial last stop for ISIS recruits entering Syria. Here's how The New Yorker described the city back in December 2014:
“This summer, ISIS was widely believed to have penetrated Gaziantep. In October, police, in two separate raids in Gaziantep Province, seized twenty-nine suicide vests, three hundred and thirty pounds of C-4 explosives, grenades and other explosives, and Kalashnikovs. Americans in Gaziantep have been warned that ISIS operatives are tracking the activities of Westerners. U.S. officials remain in the city only a few days, or even a few hours, as they carry out their missions. A senior State Department official who was visiting the city told me that if he came under attack there his only option would be to hide under his hotel bed.”
Provably, little has changed in Gaziantep since 2014. One week after Long was arrested, 38 ISIS-bound foreign fighters were arrested there on their way to Syria.
Another week later, five Turkish police officers were injured in an ISIS bombing in Gaziantep following a raid on an ISIS safehouse, where one occupant blew himself up rather than be taken alive following a shootout where four ISIS terrorists were killed by police.
That same day, al-Qaeda supporters openly drove through city.
Earlier this week, the Turkish military moved armored vehicles into the city following an ISIS rocket attack in the area that hit a school.
Gaziantep. An ISIS hotspot and active war zone where Westerners rightfully fear for their lives.
Glenn Greenwald and Long's attorneys claim that Saadiq Long had simply taken his wife and kids there looking for job opportunities, doing a little tourism, when they were singled out on an immigration mix-up caused by anti-Muslim discrimination by U.S. authorities. Singled out as literally millions of people, including multiple terrorist groups and refugees, transited through the area.
4. Glenn’s article is titled “U.S. Air Force Veteran, Smeared as 'an ISIS Fighter,' Just Returned to the U.S.”, as if this development is in conflict with PJ Media's reporting.
This is pivotal.
Greenwald’s primary argument here -- which he uses to insinuate that PJ Media couldn't possibly have reported the truth -- is that the U.S. government simply would never let a known ISIS operative back into the country.
Needless to say, that Long was able to leave Turkey and freely enter the U.S. further demonstrates that the December report that he was arrested as an “ISIS fighter” was a complete fabrication. The U.S. government does not work to secure the release of “ISIS fighters,” give them waivers from the no-fly list, and then allow them to waltz back into the U.S. and be free on American soil. “Saadiq and his family’s return to the United States confirms, if there was still any doubt, that Turkey does not believe them to be ISIS operatives,” Gadeir Abbas, Long’s lawyer, told The Intercept.
Of course the U.S. government would allow a U.S. citizen to re-enter the country, even if under suspicion of illegal activity.
The U.S. government has done this repeatedly -- because it's a citizen's right.
Even if the suspected illegal activity is, say … just to pick a random crime for an example … FIGHTING FOR ISIS:
FBI Director: Americans Fighting With ISIS 'Entitled' to Come Back
FBI Director James Comey told CBS's "60 Minutes" that "a dozen or so" Americans are fighting with terrorists in Syria; "yes," he knows who they are; and they are "entitled to come back" unless their passport is revoked; and if they do come back, they will be tracked.
Asked if he know who "each and every one" of the Americans are, Comey said, "of that dozen or so, I do."
Comey said he expects some of these Americans to return to the United States:
"Ultimately, an American citizen, unless their passport's revoked, is entitled to come back. So, someone who's fought with ISIL, with an American passport wants to come back, we will track them very carefully."
Well … Comey says that -- but has it actually happened?
And that count was from 10 months ago:
U.S. spy chief says 40 Americans who went to Syria have returned
About 180 Americans have traveled to Syria to join Islamist militants and around 40 of them have returned to the United States, the U.S. National Intelligence director, James Clapper, said on Monday.
Hmm. So has anyone later been charged after being allowed to re-enter the country?
Yes again -- and last year POOLE HIMSELF reported it.
Naturalized U.S. citizen Abdurahman Sheik Mohamud went to Syria, fought with al-Qaeda, and returned to the U.S. -- and the DOJ waited eight months before they charged him. The DOJ held off on charging him even while aware he was conducting weapons training here.
To sum this pivotal point:
Greenwald presents Long’s return to the U.S. as a singularly conclusive development, proving on its own that Long could never have been suspected of being a terror threat.
In reality, Greenwald -- who has built a career as some breed of civil rights messiah -- proved he doesn’t know a damned thing within his supposed field of expertise, a damned basic thing.
It’s his primary argument, and a bunch of his readers accepted it unquestioningly and embarrassed themselves on social media, joining the list of people to whom Greenwald owes an apology.
Especially since Greenwald -- in his initial attack on PJ Media -- appears to have known about this possibility, as he admitted that Long could still be charged with a crime by Turkey or the U.S. at a later date.
5. Greenwald left out pivotal information from the DOJ brief about how Long got back to the United States.
“As we reported, Long and his family were being held for deportation on alleged immigration violations, and a legal brief filed last December by the Justice Department in response to Long’s lawsuit demanding removal from the no-fly list also states that Long and his wife and daughter were detained because Turkish authorities “determined that the three had neither legal residence nor legal employment in Turkey.” As the DOJ itself said, once the Longs decided on their travel plans out of Turkey, “the U.S. government had reviewed the proposed travel plans and had no objection to those plans.” And the Longs did indeed leave Turkey as soon as they decided on travel plans to the U.S., which they were free to do because -- obviously -- neither the Americans nor the Turkish government really believe he has anything to do with ISIS.”
Greenwald doesn't mention that the brief says Saadiq repeatedly refused the DOJ’s requests to assist them with their travel. Poole’s article did report this. It was on Page 2 of the brief, and again on Page 6.
Long had asked for a Temporary Restraining Order and a preliminary injunction to get him off of the “No Fly” list before he would agree to return to the United States. The judge rejected both requests.
Greenwald made no mention of the two rejections, or the reasoning behind them.
Greenwald used the term "Kafkaesque" to describe Long’s situation. However, the DOJ brief noted that there is an existing process for appealing one’s placement on the “No Fly” list, and Long has had years to attempt going through it, but he refused to. Therefore there were no grounds for immediate relief.
Kafkaesque? Long simply didn’t exercise his right for several years. He can of course try to now, if he wishes. But perhaps he never did because the subsequent court proceeding might reveal things about his case he didn't want revealed, and might result in his continued stay on the "No Fly" list. Perhaps someone advised him that appealing for the TRO and the preliminary injunction could be a way around that.
Who knows. But Long was stuck in detention in Turkey for two months on his own volition.
6. Greenwald does not tell his readers anything about the Tahrir News article.
The article reported the key information that Long was with two ISIS members already known to Turkish authorities at the time he was picked up in the raid.
7. There is a second issue with Greenwald's article title, "U.S. Air Force Veteran, Smeared as 'an ISIS Fighter,' Just Returned to the U.S." We never called him "an ISIS Fighter."
Nowhere within anything PJ Media has ever written on Saadiq Long is he referred to as “an ISIS fighter.” Some might consider this to be an actual incident of fabrication, as he puts it in quotations and refers to us.
FIVE TIMES. Greenwald puts “ISIS Fighter” in quotation marks five times. Here’s one instance:
The smearing of Long as an “ISIS fighter” by the rabidly anti-Muslim website “Pajamas Media,” based on anonymous government officials, was a sham.
Who is he quoting? Not us. Who’s guilty of “smearing” there?
8. In his first article, he repeatedly claimed, falsely, that we had said Turkey had charged Long with a crime.
“Even the Pajamas Media story did not claim that Long had been convicted of being an ISIS member. It claimed that he had been charged with that: by the government of Turkey, which notoriously exploits terrorism accusations to imprison people ranging from Vice journalists to critics of the prime minister.”
Same as the prior point. No assertion that Long had been “charged,” with anything, appears anywhere in our original reporting. Again, some might call something like this a fabrication.
9. Greenwald attacks us for employing an anonymous source in our report.
Greenwald uses an anonymous source in his article attacking us for using an anonymous source.
Greenwald’s “pretend” tactic seems clear: when presented with any contrary or derogatory information about Long that challenges his narrative -- even within sources, like the DOJ brief, that he acknowledges -- pretend that such evidence doesn't exist. Repeatedly make obviously falsifiable claims about our reporting, which a person with a strong set of facts on his side would have no incentive to do. Hope his followers don’t notice, hope they move on, hope his target doesn’t have the time or fortitude to tear his bull apart.
Enough already. We’re requesting a retraction and an apology from Glenn and Pierre Omidyar.