From Detention Camp guard to neocon troll, you’ve come a long way, baby!
(Updated below) Last Friday, The eXiled published Max Blumenthal’s devastating exposé (cross-posted from Al-Akhbar) on the intimate ties between the Israeli occupation security forces, the Bahraini monarchy’s democracy-crushing goons, and police forces across the USA responsible for brutally suppressing the Occupy protests over the past several weeks. As one might expect, the trolls are already out for blood. The Atlantic Monthly‘s former Israeli Detention Camp guard, Cpl. Jeffrey Goldberg, today posted a sleaze-hit on Blumenthal’s article. Since there are no facts in the story that can be called into question, the way they’re going after Blumenthal is by getting one of the sources to deny her quotes (or sort of deny, it’s hard to even tell now) which she had given to Blumenthal in an on the record interview. This would not be the first time a highly damaging and contentious bit of reporting, which contained no factual errors, was attacked this way: Ron Suskind, for example, suffered similar attacks in which quoted sources denied their quotes, in a campaign designed to undermine the damaging impact of his book Confidence Men.
As Blumenthal writes in response to Cpl. Jeffrey Goldberg [see below], what’s ridiculous is that Karen Greenberg, the source who is now backing away from her on-the-record quotes, has already published similar statements in her own work. Moreover, Greenberg’s quotes are used as evidence in the article’s reporting; they are “color” for the facts meticulously documented. Take out Karen Greenberg’s quotes, and nothing about the article changes.Since this campaign is being spearheaded by Jeffrey Goldberg, a former Detention Camp guard and neocon hack who’s proven over and over how unreliable he is (Goldberg recently blamed the Norway massacre on Muslims; he also “reported” that there were “extensive ties” between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and attacked journalists who questioned the rationale for invading Iraq), we call bullshit. In fact, we’re disgusted by this, because we’ve dealt with these same sleazy, vicious attacks ourselves, both in Russia, and here, by Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic Monthly no less.
Doing real, independent, investigative journalism is difficult enough in this country, and speaking truth to power can be dangerous to one’s career. That alone can scare away people from reporting, publishing or even lending a quote to a investigative article that might upset people. But there’s something especially cowardly about the way American journalists and editors and their sources shy away from taking those risks for the truth, when the threat here in America isn’t torture and death as it is in Russia, but rather, the threat here is measured in career ladder rungs. I have worked in countries where people risk getting murdered for reporting the truth; The eXile itself was shut down by The Kremlin following accusations that our paper was guilty of “extremism,” the codeword used to crack down on all dissent (read the US Embassy wikileaked cables on the Kremlin attack on The eXile). People like former Detention Camp guard Jeffrey Goldberg would’ve fit right in with those four Kremlin agents who raided The eXile in 2008.
As our readers know, Jeffrey Goldberg’s comrades at The Atlantic Monthly specialize in corruption and hit pieces disguised as journalism. Just six months after the Kremlin forced me out of Russia, Goldberg’s colleague at the Atlantic Monthly, Megan McArdle, led a sleazy campaign to discredit a scoop I co-wrote with Yasha Levine exposing the Tea Party as an Astroturf campaign backed by the Koch brothers and FreedomWorks. But the article’s impact was blunted thanks to Megan McArdle, who waged a campaign to discredit our scoop. As it turned out, McArdle’s husband worked for FreedomWorks, doing Astroturf projects, while Megan is practically a daughter to the Kochs (or if not that, she does do parties for the Kochs). Here’s what McArdle wrote in defense of her beloved Koch brothers: “astroturfing doesn’t really seem like their [the Kochs’] style. I’ve seen Koch in action at private events, and though I’ll respect the privacy, I’ll say that even in the company of other like-minded rich people, he displayed rather a mania for honest dealing.”
Indeed. McArdle’s husband now works at the Koch-founded libertarian Reason magazine; this past October, Megan McArdle was listed as the emcee for a Charles Koch gala dinner, featuring Master Koch himself as the main speaker.
Corruption and cronyism are the meat and potatoes of the Atlantic Monthly business model. Which is exactly why we stand by Max Blumenthal’s honest, independent, and professional reporting. If anyone gives a shit about the degradation and decline of this country, they too will stand up for Blumenthal and let Goldberg and the Atlantic Monthly know what they think about this.
After Al Akhbar English published my report, “The Israelification of American domestic security,”  the usual group of anonymous ultra-Zionist trolls began attacking me on Twitter. They didn’t challenge any of the facts I brought forth in my piece — they couldn’t because they were all true — but instead questioned whether Karen Greenberg, who I quoted, would have said such things to me about Israeli influence on American torture policy.
The Twitter trolls apparently enlisted former Israeli prison guard  and current online occupation enforcer  Jeffrey Goldberg as their captain. Goldberg went to Greenberg directly and asked her if I quoted her accurately (Goldberg called the full-time pro-Israel trolls “Goldblog readers”). After being prodded, Greenberg claimed  to Goldberg, “I never made such a statement. I’ve never seen any proof of this.”
Greenberg has been a friend of mine and has helped me in the past. In 2009, for instance, she hosted me for a discussion  at her former Center for Law and Security at NYU of my book, “Republican Gomorrah.”
I am not sure why Greenberg would deny the statement she made to me on the record unless she was intimidated by Goldberg and the pro-Israel forces he represents. But the salient fact is that I did quote her accurately, word for word, and I stand by my reporting.
Greenberg’s statement to me did not come out of the blue: A book she co-authored with Joshua Dratel, “The Road to Abu Ghraib,” contains a lengthy section  on Israeli court rulings authorizing torture and torture techniques refined by the Shin Bet. In a subsequent article, Greenberg and Dratel proposed questions  for Donald Rumsfeld about torture. Here is one: “Did your discussions of torture involve consulting experts in Israel..?”
I imagine that Greenberg wishes she had made a more qualified statement to me on Israel and torture, or that she did not make such a remark at all. But she said what she said and I quoted her accurately.
It is revealing that Goldberg chose to focus on an issue that was at best peripheral to my story, which dealt entirely with the subject of Israeli training of American local and federal law enforcement. It appears that he was unable to challenge my factual reporting, or to deal with the uncomfortable substance of it, so he sought to change the subject.
Update: Looks like the source, Karen Greenberg, is changing her story about her quotes. First, let’s go back to what Greenberg told Jeffrey Goldberg:
“I never made such a statement. I’ve never seen any proof of this.”
In other words, Ms. Greenberg claims to Jeffrey Goldberg that Blumenthal made up the words. It’s cut and dry: she never said those words that Blumenthal printed. Period.
But she told a different story to Adam Sewrer of Mother Jones. Instead of accusing Blumenthal of inaccurately quoting her words, she claims that his story reported the “sense of the quote” inaccurately. Here is what Greenberg told Mother Jones:
“What I remembered saying to him was you ought to look at these allegations that others have made about Israeli training in interrogation techniques. I did not intend to assert these allegations as fact…the entire sense of the quote is inaccurate.”
So which one is it, Ms. Greenberg? First, she tells Jeffrey Goldberg that she “never made such a statement” and therefore Blumenthal flat-out lied. No two ways about it. Then Greenberg tells another reporter that Blumenthal’s mistake wasn’t that she “never made such a statement” but rather, that, like, you know, the sense of the quote was inaccurate–you dig, baby?
By changing her story like this, Karen Greenberg has thoroughly discredited herself. If you can’t even get your own story straight, how the Hell can a Jeffrey Goldberg use you to discredit someone else?
This looks like a classic case of a squeamish source who regretted giving the interview, tried to backpedal, but lacks the sort of experience in dissembling and sleaze that a real pro, a Jeffrey Goldberg for example, has down like a motor function.
Sorry Jeffrey, back to the sleaze-drawingboard for you.
(UPDATE NEW: Adam Sewrer just admitted on twitter that he published this anonymous, bizarre smear-attack on Max Blumenthal in 2008, under the name “dnA,” accusing Max of being a racist for not supporting Obama. Why does Mother Jones pay a smear-monkey creep like this, who smears fellow-leftists and uses Mother Jones to continue a bizarre personal campaign against Max Blumenthal?)
It turns out that Adam Sewrer has a quote-mashing problem. He can’t decide what Karen Greenberg actually told him, and his erratic behavior suggests he still doesn’t have a clue. At last count, Adam Serwer offered four different versions of the same quote by Karen Greenberg—each quote he insists is word-for-word reported directly, yet each of the four quotes posted or tweeted out is different. Not sure about you folks out there, but I’ve never conducted an interview according to quantum laws, in which one quote exists as four different quotes at the same time.
All of this came out in a brief Twitter exchange, part of which we are reposting here for your reading pleasure:
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