Glenn Greenwald’s Deceptive Response to My Critique of His Tweets on the Alleged 12 Russian Agents Indictments

On Friday, Glenn Greenwald made a series of statements on Twitter in response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Indictment of 12 suspected Russian intelligence officers earlier that day. On Saturday, I tweeted the following:

On Sunday, Greenwald posted an essay at The Intercept titled, “How Twitter Degrades Discourse and Encourages Distortions: Illustrated by ex-Pentagon Official Ryan Goodman.”

Here is my response to Greenwald’s essay:

Glenn Greenwald’s essay sets up a strawman and misinforms his readers. At great length, he refutes a claim that I did not make, and he does not take ownership for what he actually tweeted.

1. Greenwald’s July 2017 tweet

According to Greenwald’s essay, I claimed he tweeted in July 2017 that we should have “blind faith,” “blindly believe,” “uncritically accept” Mueller’s pronouncements.

Greenwald didn’t tweet that in July 2017, nor would he ever. As Greenwald himself puts it in his essay, “No rational person would believe such a manifestly moronic proposition.” So if I wasn’t claiming Greenwald was making such a preposterous proposition in his July 2017 tweet, what was I suggesting?

Greenwald’s July 2017 tweet in response to Chris Hayes was about the process and supporting a level of trust we could place in Mueller and the judgments Mueller makes based on the evidence that the special counsel retrieves via subpoenas. It’s worth noting that Greenwald’s tweet referred to the early stages of the criminal process, and the legal judgments a prosecutor makes, for example, in asking a grand jury to return an indictment based on its consideration of the evidence.

2. Greenwald’s July 13, 2018 tweets

Greenwald’s essay suggests that all he said in reaction to the 12 Russians Indictments was that allegations in an Indictment should not be treated as evidence or proof.

But Greenwald said much more than that, and was even criticized by his own colleagues for implying and saying more. I selected two of the tweets in which Greenwald was most dismissive about the significance of the indictment and made claims about distrusting the office of the special counsel including, among other things, the prosecutorial team’s faith in the evidence obtained via subpoenas and the prosecutor’s legal judgment in obtaining these high stakes indictments.

So, yes, the two sets of tweets—a year apart—are inconsistent and, in my view, involve moving the goalposts.

Finally, there’s an irony in Greenwald’s taking to a long form essay that distorts what I tweeted and that makes gross claims about my state of mind and intentions, and Greenwald’s then taking to Twitter to say things like “@rgoodlaw knows there’s no contradiction between the tweets. He just wanted the crack addict hit of re-tweets.” Just think about it: that’s Glenn Greenwald’s idea of not degrading the discourse or filling it with distortions. 

About the Author(s)

Ryan Goodman

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016). You can follow him on Twitter @rgoodlaw.