Glenn Greenwald’s Dishonest Conspiracy Theory on the CIA’s Russian Bounty Assessment

In service of his schtick, @ggreenwald is again putting forward a series of bad-faith misrepresentations re the CIA Russian bounty assessment and the NYT reporting on it. I’m going to dissect various ways he is demonstrably gaslighting, after which I’ll ignore him. /1

At a hearing last year, various lawmakers brought up the recently disclosed bounty issue while also expressing skepticism about Trump’s plan withdraw 4100 of 8600 troops in Afghanistan. Glenn concocted a theory the bounty story was a conspiracy to keep the war going. /2

At the onset, there’s a big conceptual problem he’s never engaged with: The assessment was a reason to be angry at Russia, but it was also a reason to be *less* suspicious of Taliban leaders: some recent attacks were perhaps astroturfed and not their doing. /3

The big threat to hopes for ending the war was not lawmakers’ skepticism of an abrupt halving of troop levels, but the risk of disrupting the Doha peace talks with Taliban leaders. If a big attack happened, the US could not jump to the conclusion that the Taliban were to blame./4

But besides ignoring that glaring logical gap, let’s look at signs of deliberate obfuscation. For ex, this sentence creates the impression the CIA “cooked up” its “tale” in close proximity to its disclosure, which would support his narrative. It was actually then 5 months old. /5

Glenn’s narrative also needs the CIA to have leaked this, scheming to manipulate public opinion again! So he fosters an impression the agency was our source (“this conveniently leaked CIA story,” “CIA propaganda”) & sometimes outright calls it “the CIA leak.” /6

He’s even absurdly invented out of thin air a claim that the NYT somehow “admitted” the leak came from the CIA. He actually has no idea from where we managed to piece it all together. Multiple parts of the executive branch knew about it and it had been shared with allies./7

Relatedly, his claim of a timing link to Trump’s troop reduction plans turns on the premise that our reporting was brief and minimal, like Snowden handing him docs to summarize. He has no idea when we first heard about the assessment and how long we worked to figure it all out./8

Glenn’s narrative needs the CIA’s judgment to be a hoax like Trump said, so he keeps saying there was never any evidence presented for it. In the real world, we rapidly dragged out an unusual amount of detail about the underlying evidence’s scope & limits last year. /9

Putting aside the info the Biden admin recently declassified, we wrote a lot last year about evidence like statements by detained members of a criminal network in contact with Unit 29155, the dovetailing travel data and $ transfers – and the lack of surveillance intercept./10

Glenn keeps saying the “story” has been discredited, using fast-and-loose language that blurs the distinction between the CIA assessment itself & the NYT’s reporting on it. In reality, everything we reported about its existence & the Trump admin’s handling of it was accurate. /11

The assessment itself is like most intel analysis seeking to make sense of what an adversary may trying to hide. The rival confidence levels the WH cited were known in 2020, not a new and thus discrediting event. All the analysts agree the assessment is the best explanation./end

P.S. Predictably, Glenn has responded to this thread not by rebutting it, but with cynical insults and false insinuations. I have known him since his earnest “How Would a Patriot Act?” days during the Bush years. He is not the same person he used to be.

Originally tweeted by Charlie Savage (@charlie_savage) on May 14, 2021.

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