Cliff Kincaid
A tainted award for Greenwald's anti-NSA stories
By Cliff Kincaid
April 4, 2014

The University of Georgia has been badly embarrassed over a controversial award given by its Grady College of Journalism to Glenn Greenwald, the main mouthpiece for National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden. Documents provided by the journalism school to Accuracy in Media about the nature of the selection process contain numerous misstatements of fact, and omissions about the nature of Greenwald's work and the damage done by Snowden's disclosures.

Touted by some as one of the top three journalism schools in the country, the Grady College named Greenwald this year's recipient of the "McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage." But the "courage" consists of soliciting, accepting, and publicizing stolen NSA documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has been charged with espionage by the U.S.

On the run from U.S. authorities, Snowden is currently being guarded in Moscow by the FSB, the security service of the Vladimir Putin regime.

Demonstrating cowardice, not courage, Greenwald, an American citizen living in Brazil, has not returned to the U.S. since his disclosures of the stolen classified information began. The consensus of opinion is that Greenwald fears being charged personally with espionage as a Snowden accomplice if he returns to the U.S. The Espionage Act absolutely prohibits the publication of classified information in the area of communications intelligence. That would include programs of the NSA. The law does not include a loophole for self-proclaimed journalists who cooperate with spies to violate the law.

"Mr. Greenwald has not confirmed whether he will accept the medal in person," said John F. Greenman, professor and Carter Chair in Journalism at the Grady College of Journalism, in response to our inquiry. Greenwald is supposed to receive the award, named for Ralph McGill, an editor and publisher of The Atlanta Constitution, during a ceremony next fall.

Like his "appearance" last November before the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood front, it is probably the case that Greenwald will give a video address. Greenwald hailed CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism funding case, for its "patriotic work." His collaboration with the International Socialist Organization has also been controversial. But the University of Georgia seems unaware of Greenwald's appearances at Marxist-Leninist conferences over the last few years.

The award helps bring attention to the corruption in the journalism business that affects the national security of the nation. Rather than stress objective reporting of the facts, Grady College has had a program in place since 2003 to emphasize "diversity" in hiring faculty and recruiting students.

The program has taken some strange turns, such as "senior lecturer" Michael Castengera's project to "improve the rapidly advancing broadcast media industry in Vietnam," a communist dictatorship. The State Department reports, "The CPV [Communist Party of Vietnam], government, and party-controlled mass organizations controlled all print, broadcast, and electronic media."

The Grady College reports that Castengera "feels like a celebrity after a series of trips to Vietnam." He has posted a short video that shows him giving a presentation in Vietnam.

The Carter Chair, named for Don Carter, a 1938 graduate of Grady College, and his wife, is supposed to ensure the teaching of "journalistic excellence to students entering the profession, emphasizing journalistic values of clarity, accuracy, fairness, balance and credibility, values that characterize the Carters' professional careers."

But the recognition by the University of Georgia of Glenn Greenwald's peculiar brand of anti-American "journalism," on the basis of misrepresentations about his work and record, is raising serious concern among alumni, and questions about what the Grady College is teaching young journalists.

"I'm a proud graduate of the University of Georgia Henry W. Grady School of Journalism, and have practiced journalism in Georgia – both print and television – spanning four decades," media consultant Phil Kent told Accuracy in Media. "But I'm disgusted that my alma mater is presenting the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage to a pro-Russian propagandist, Glenn Greenwald, who received and published stolen American national security documents from the traitor Edward Snowden."

AIM requested a copy of the Greenwald nomination submitted by Dorothy Parvaz, an Iranian-born editor at Al Jazeera English, a channel funded by the government of Qatar and known for its links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic terrorism. (This document – minus her email address – is included at the end of this article.)

Writer Mary Grabar, a University of Georgia alumna (Ph.D. 2002) and a Georgia resident and taxpayer, urged the citizens of Georgia to "look into what the Grady College of Journalism is teaching by awarding prizes to an employee of a foreign media company owned by a hostile regime (Al-Jazeera, Qatar) and then to a publicist for a former contractor for the NSA now charged with espionage. It is certainly not a display of 'Journalistic Courage' as stated by the College's announcement."

The award to Greenwald is seen by some as a means by which pressure can be brought on the Pulitzer Prize board at Columbia University, which will announce the winners of its own "distinguished" awards on April 14. Greenwald is considered by the liberal media to be in the running for this recognition as well.

In advance of that event, Columbia University Professor Richard K. Betts has provided a statement saying, "Snowden is a traitor. Any award that honors what he did, or his enablers, would be a disgrace." Betts, who also serves as the Director of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, said he would not comment more specifically about "a potential prize" that has not yet been announced.

The Parvaz nomination of Greenwald took the form of a short 245-word email hailing Greenwald for his "courage" in the face of "character assassination" and a "smear campaign" about his "private life" and homosexual "partner." It was addressed to Grady College's Greenman, who helps oversee the McGill awards, and Anettra Mapp, an administrative specialist at the Grady College of Journalism.

Despite talk of a "smear" campaign and "character assassination," it remains that Greenwald has openly advertised his homosexuality, although he could not have welcomed the disclosure that he once had a role in a homosexual pornography business. His former business partner, who now runs a "lucrative" gay pornography empire, is proud of "helping to launch, market, and manage" Greenwald's original blog "Unclaimed Territory."

What has not been widely reported is that Greenwald has a record of anti-American activities and pronouncements that includes:
  • Speaking publicly in favor of "weakening" America and declaring that al-Qaeda's 9/11 terrorist attacks on America were "very minimal in scope compared to the level of deaths that the United States has been bringing to the world for decades – from Vietnam to illegal wars in Central America...."

  • Describing Anwar al-Awlaki, the American al-Qaeda leader killed in a drone strike, merely as "someone who the U.S. government hates because he speaks effectively to the Muslim world about the violence that the United States commits regionally, and the responsibility of Muslims to stand up to that violence."

  • Defending WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, on the run from rape allegations and now living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, Greenwald stated on the Moscow-funded channel Russia Today (RT) that Assange's work for the pro-Putin network was perfectly fine and proper. (The Russians gave Assange a TV show on RT, where he interviewed such figures as Hezbollah terrorist leader Hasan Nasrallah, U.S. Marxist professor Noam Chomsky, and Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa.)
Parvaz claimed in her nomination of Greenwald that his "courageous investigative project" had "sought to bring accountability to a corrupt system...." As she undoubtedly knows, the NSA is designed to follow and monitor foreign terrorists and enemy agents with U.S. connections, especially Islamists. The agency's famous project Venona uncovered communications between Moscow and its operatives and spies in the U.S. such as Alger Hiss.

Snowden has been called "this generation's Alger Hiss" and someone who "may be one of the worst traitors in the history of our nation" by former Republican Senator Jon Kyl (AZ).

Cashing in on his notoriety, Greenwald's book No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State is scheduled for release on April 29.

There is no evidence, despite Snowden's claims, that the laws regulating the NSA were violated. But there is abundant evidence that Snowden violated several laws. He is charged with "unauthorized communication of national defense information" and "willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person," brought under the 1917 Espionage Act. The other charge against Snowden is theft of government property

A press release from the Grady College about the selection process said the decision on a winner was made by the 2013 class of McGill Fellows, described as "12 undergraduate and graduate students chosen for academic achievement, practical experience and leadership."

A "briefing" document on Greenwald's work was done by Kelsi Eccles, one of those McGill fellows who is identified as a senior journalism major. Her LinkedIn profile describes her as an "environmental advocate," something that seems inconsistent with objective journalism.

Her "briefing" on Greenwald, which was apparently instrumental in convincing the others of the case for recognizing his work, is only 603 words and consists of short sections on Greenwald's career, "courage," and previous "awards and recognitions," with sympathetic quotations about Greenwald. (This document is also included at the end of this article.)

Some of the more obvious distortions and omissions include:
  • Eccles mentions Greenwald "received the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism," but fails to note evidence that Stone was exposed as a Soviet agent of influence.

  • Eccles mentioned Greenwald's articles about "the arrest and oppressive detention of Bradley Manning," never mentioning that the former United States Army soldier was convicted of violating the Espionage Act and is serving 35 years in prison.

  • Eccles said that Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, "was arrested and had his cell phone, laptop and baggage seized at an airport on the way from Berlin to the United States," without noting that Miranda was detained on suspicion of "terrorism" and "espionage" in connection with transporting some of the documents stolen by Snowden. Miranda was reportedly carrying documents from Laura Poitras, a Snowden collaborator in Berlin, to Greenwald in Brazil.
The announced rationale for the Greenwald award, as reflected in an official press release, was troubling enough to writer Mary Grabar, who noted, "In a further blow to the integrity of journalism, the department makes no mention of the fact that the source for Greenwald's reporting on the U.S. government's security surveillance, Edward Snowden, is charged with espionage."

Referring to a Wall Street Journal article about Russian planners of the invasion of Ukraine evading U.S. electronic intercepts, she said, "It was recently revealed that the release of [Snowden's] information may have put the Ukraine in further danger as Russia invades Crimea."

Phil Kent's statement of concern included the following: "How moral and ethical is it to receive classified stolen documents from a thief who now receives protection and sanctuary from Russia? The leaks Greenwald published have been characterized by the ranking Republican and Democrat on the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as placing 'America's military men and women in greater danger around the world.' Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., even says 'we have begun to see terrorists changing their methods' because of Greenwald's reporting of the leaks and 'the harm to our country and its citizens will only continue to endure.' Why does the University of Georgia stoop to giving a journalism award to the media enabler of a document thief being protected by the Russians?"

Greenwald's new media start-up, alluded to by Parvaz in her email, is funded by billionaire eBay founder and French-born Iranian-American Pierre Omidyar.
  • Email from Dorothy Parvaz nominating Glenn Greenwald for McGill Medal

    Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2013 6:08 AM
    To: Anettra Mapp; John F Greenman
    Subject: RE: McGill Medal Nomination

    Dear John –

    I'd like to nominate Glenn Greenwald for next year's McGill medal. His work on the NSA leaks alone was courageous enough, but Mr. Greenwald has withstood what would destroy so many others: Attempts at character assassination as well as attacks on his private life and partner (so, in effect, his family).

    Despite the smear campaign that has seen him justifying aspects of his personal affairs, which, frankly, are no one's business (where he chose to live, who his partner is, etc.), he has stood tall and remained the face of a courageous investigative project that has sought to bring accountability to a corrupt system; one that violates the privacy of the citizens it ought to protect and goes so far as to even prevent lawmakers from being privy to its operations.

    Perhaps Mr. Greenwald is not facing torture or live ammunition, but what he's doing is no less risky: He and his colleagues are taking on powerful entities, ones that can crush a person when they bring their full weight to bear.

    His work and courage, I believe, are worth recognizing. I hope UGA feels the same.



    PS: Greenwald is now part of a new journalism startup, as you may well know. The last e-mail address I had for him was from his days at Salon. I'm sure he can be contacted on Twitter. Or I can ask around to see if anyone has his new contacts.

  • Briefing by Kelsi Eccles

    Glenn Greenwald

    Prepared by Kelsi Eccles

    His Career

    Glenn Greenwald's reporting of the National Security Agency's classified documents led to a large debate in America. Did Greenwald's reporting compromise citizen's safety with the release of information or do citizens a favor by informing them of the government's intelligence regarding their personal lives?

    Dorothy Parvaz, the 2013 McGill award recipient, nominated Greenwald for his work with Edward Snowden and cited how his work represented courage. "Perhaps Mr. Greenwald is not facing torture or live ammunition, but what he's ding [sic] is no less risky," Parvaz said. "He and his colleagues are taking on powerful entities, ones that can crush a person when they bring their full weight to bear."

    Greenwald's previous work as a civil rights litigator reflect his career efforts to go against the grain with what has been accepted and representing citizens facing racial discrimination and gay rights, according to a BuzzFeed article. Greenwald created the Unclaimed Territory blog, wrote as a contributing writer for, and worked at The Guardian where his NSA reports occurred. Greenwald authored six novels including his New York Times Best Seller, How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values From President Run Amok.

    Testament To Courage

    Glenn Greenwald's most prominent story was his work with Edward Snowden and the release of NSA documents. Snowden, who had done previous research about Greenwald's background, to discuss the possible release of government information, contacted Greenwald according to a BuzzFeed Political article.

    "When I got to Hong Kong, my immediate priority was to kick the tires as hard as I could on his story and see if there was anything that he was hiding," Greenwald told a BuzzFeed representative. "I spent five or six hours just relentlessly questioning him, using the same tricks that I used to use in depositions."

    Greenwald reported information regarding the classified NSA documents while working at The Guardian on June 5, 2013. After that point, more news was released about what the government's surveillance program entailed. The news included a release of the government's PRISM program, Boundless informant system and the American cyber attack list was exposed in Greenwald's articles, according to a timeline publication published by Al-Jazeera America. The timeline includes in-depth information about what each program was created for and what information they collected from websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Yahoo! to name a few.

    Another case emerged from the Snowden story that involved Greenwald's partner, David Michael Miranda, into the scandal. Miranda was arrested and had his cell phone, laptop and baggage seized at an airport on the way from Berlin to the United States, according to a CNN article. Greenwald posted an article for The Guardian where he reported on how his partner was treated and how he suspects that the White House planned to seize Miranda's belongings to send a message to journalists reporting on classified government documents.

    "This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism," Greenwald wrote in the article. "It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by."

    Awards and Recognitions

    Greenwald was named as one of the most 25 influential political commentators in the nation by The Atlantic. He also received the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and received the 2013 Electronic Frontier Foundation pioneer award. Greenwald also received the Online Journalism Association's award for his investigation on the arrest and oppressive detention of Bradley Manning.
© Cliff Kincaid


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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