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Glenn Greenwald Charged with Cybercrimes in Brazil (nytimes.com)
345 points by jmsflknr 5 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 168 comments

In case someone is wondering how they hacked Telegram.

They used caller id spoofing and a telco vulnerability.

1. Change your phone ID and try to login on Telegram;

2. Telegram will send an SMS with an authentication number followed by a phone call to the actual mobile phone;

3. To avoid the message going through, spams the victim with many VoIP calls;

4. The Telegram call will be recorded on the missed call voice messages;

In Brazil, you can listen to the recorded messages calling your own number. Surprisingly, the telco only checks if the calling number was equal to the called number.

5. Again, with the call id spoofing, call your own number.

6. Now you have access to the victim's Telegram (past conversations and contact list)

7. ???

8. Profit.

EDIT: I translated part of the transcription used to accuse GG in another thread.

I'm surprised that 2FA wasn't activated.

I should made it clearer that Gleen Greenwald that was not hacked.

I described the procedure the hackers used to access the politicians conversations. Not GG's.

In one interview, Gleen Greenwald said the computer with the copy of the data isn't connect to the internet. Many news organization worked with the same offline computer at his office. According to him, he did that to avoid leaking personal information.

Yet, he published conversation of others journalists with theirs sources. Violating the secrecy of the source (protect by law). I should note that this other site editorial line is the opposite of GG's.

GG suggested the hackers to delete all the files. They didn't. That's how the police manage to get the messages of GG talking with the hackers.

Isn't it possible he used it but the person he was speaking with didn't?

At least from a U.S. perspective, it seems more likely that law enforcement would try to get a court order to get into the hacker's conversations than a journalist's.

The supreme court judges already stated that Gleen Greenwald cannot be investigated because the reporting. The police got this conversation from a backup kept by the hackers. There is no chance this accusation will be accept by a judge, it goes against the constitution.

Some people speculate the prosecutor was looking for exposure and might run for some position in the next election.

I'm not...Greenwald, while an incredibly brave journalist, and friend of consumer tech rights, struggled to use PGP keys with Snowden...

Does anyone know if Telegram will ever move away from relying on phone numbers for authentication?

Telegram rolled a fix right after the hijack trick was publicly known. Now, you can receive a verification code as a telephone call only if you have 2FA enabled in your Telegram account.

Before commenting, let's all pause for a minute and recognize that:

(a) we're not versed in Brazilian Law

(b) we don't really have all the facts of the case

(c) "charged with" and "found guilty of" are vastly different things

(d) one's opinion on the morality of a certain alleged episode has no bearing on its legality

> (d) one's opinion on the morality of a certain alleged episode has no bearing on its legality

While this is true, the related question over whether the law in question is "just", is very much a relavent issue, and something worthy of comment.

Are folks actually questioning the "just" nature of a law, really? If so, which law?

Or are folks questioning whether that law is being falsely applied in this instance?

I think it's the latter. Folks are saying, essentially, that he wasn't part of the conspiracy to commit a cybercrime but that he was working as a journalist who simply received information. That's a very fact-dependent claim. I don't think folks here would say that journalists have blanket immunity to commit cybercrime or anything like that -- this seems like a dispute over the facts. Of which we have basically none.

There are recordings of GG kind of "coordinating" actions of the hacker group right in the middle of the process of extracting private messages. Hacker would ask GG's opinion about what to do next: 1. expand the attack 2. stop and assess what they've gotten so far. Then GG clearly advise them to continue to extract more data. So state attorneys now think this attitude "crossed some lines" with crime to which GG is an accomplice.

> (b) we don't really have all the facts of the case

According to Folha de São Paulo there is a recorded conversation where Greenwald mentions to one of the "hackers" that The Intercept Brasil had saved all the submitted files, hence there was no reason for the hacker group to keep them:


The plaintiff considers this is a proof of Greenwald assisting the group.

So do they not have jury nullification in Brazil?

Dude, Brazil wasn't an English colony. They don't even have juries, much less jury nullification.

Jury trials are practiced in many jurisdictions and did not originate in England.


Brazil has juries.

Whoops, my bad: https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/...


But it doesn't sound like Greenwald will get a jury trial.

Thanks for the correction!

(d) is objectively false

It depends on the crime. Sometimes an ‘objective’ view of morality is an element of an offense. E.g. in fraud (and potentially, this charge)

(c) "charged with" and "found guilty of" are vastly different things

To be fair this is the most important comment in this thread. Greenwald was charged by a prosecutor who belongs to the same organization whose misbehavior he exposed, despite not being a target of the investigation. Said prosecutor already pulled a similar trick before.

The government, who just a few days ago was forced to fire a secretary who literally quoted Goebbels in a speech, loves this kind of news-cycle management and is clearly trying to assassinate Greenwald's reputation. Probably nothing will happen, which the government will then use as ammunition to blame the biased, radical left-wing, communist Judiciary, yadda yadda, as they have been doing in their ongoing war against all institutions in the past year.

is it possible to someone to be charged by a prosecutor that NOT belongs to the same organization whose misbehavior he exposed? I understand that everyone in Brazil are charged by Ministerio Público.

What you are saying is: as Greenwald exposed supposed misbehaviour (are you a judge?) by some prosecutors them he can't be prosecuted anymore, which gives him immunity to commit all kind of crimes he wants to.


I don't mean the MPF. Also the answer to your question is yes.

no it's not.

The goal of this persecution is not necessarily to jail Glenn Greenwald. What they want is to muddle the discourse and to discredit the journalists involved in this reporting. Let's remember that the group of prosecutors in question are supporters of the current government and the ex-judge is now the justice minister, a position he occupied just after releasing "dirt" on the government opponents to facilitate the presidential election. They have resorted in the last few years to all kinds of political and judicial tricks to silence their opponents through courts. This is exactly the kind of manipulation that was exposed by Glenn Greenwald.

> a position he occupied just after releasing "dirt" on the government opponents to facilitate the presidential election

That judge went after one of the largest corruption scandals of our age. There's no evidence he did so in order to acquire a political position: at the heyday of the prosecutions against the workers party, the current president (who made the judge one of his ministers) wasn't even widely known by the population.

On the other hand, Greenwald, who works for The Intercept and is funded by Pierre Omidyar (one of Ebay's founders), has a very strong leftist agenda (he's a regular in communist conventions and whatnot, for that matter), and has been working in all ways possible to discredit the current government while praising the previous government which was impeached -- the one whose party members have been convicted by various crimes, mostly corruption related. It's hard to argue that Greenwald was exposing some sort of manipulation by the judicial system. He was trying to manipulate the media by creating a narrative using information that he acquired illegally, and that he couldn't use to demonstrate wrongdoing in the end of the story.

>It's hard to argue that Greenwald was exposing some sort of manipulation by the judicial system.

It's not hard to argue at all - it's exactly what he did.

The leaked texts make it clear that the prosecutor's office and the judge (Moro) had clear political motivations for taking down the front-running candidate in the last election and that they abused their powers to do so.

> The leaked texts make it clear that the prosecutor's office and the judge (Moro) had clear political motivations for taking down the front-running candidate in the last election and that they abused their powers to do so.

At the time the bulk of the investigations were happening, Lula wasn't even running for president, and the elections were quite far away (4-6 years), so you can't argue he was in the front-run of the election.

That's false, Lula had always been the frontrunner in popular polls for the 2018 election. He was convicted by the ex-judge in the year before and jailed a few months before the election. Moreover, just a few days before the election ex-judge Moro and his group was actively providing"dirty" about Bolsonaro's opponent to the press, even though he had already negotiated a position in Bolsonaro's cabinet.

All this political activity is revealed by Greenwald's reporting on the leaked messages.

The "dirt" you're referring to is a large amount of criminal activity that lead to the the most important figures in the workers party to jail. Are you implying that all the evidences that lead to the prosecution of those politicians were created out of nowhere for political purposes?

Bolsonaro's rival in 2018's election was Mr. Haddad. Conveniently, ex-judge Moro and his group decided to prosecute him a few weeks before elections. Greenwald's reporting shows that this was politically motivated, like most actions of this supposedly "unbiased" group self-labeled "car wash operation".

Please provide sources showing that Moro prosecuted Haddad a few weeks before the elections.

Also, do you really believe that could have changed the outcome of the elections?

It's interesting to note that Greenwald keeps playing the key that Moro did "politically motivated" actions (disregarding the fact the legal actions against the worker's party went through about a dozen judges beyond Moro), while Greenwald himself is doing "journalism" that is "politically motivated".

That's a fundamental misunderstanding. Greenwald, think what you want about his political ideas (which are not entirely on the left spectrum), has no responsibility to be politically unbiased. On the contrary, he is very upfront about his political thinking (against the powerful, as he puts it). He has complete right to work on journalism independent of these views. This is part of his freedom of activity and expression as a journalist and it is ensured by the Brazilian laws. On the other hand, members of the judiciary, responsible for handling criminal matters, have NO RIGHT whatsoever to act based on their political preferences, as this goes directly against the mission of the judiciary. They also have NO RIGHT to maintain hidden coordination with prosecutors of the case. The prosecutors have NO RIGHT to maintain hidden coordination with superior instances about cases they're handling, neither they have the right to use the media to publish partial information that will help make their case in the public view. These are all activities that have been associated to the group lead by ex-judge Moro.

I'm still waiting to see the sources that show Moro interfering in the elections by suing the workers' party candidate a few weeks before the elections.

A few points:

1. The judge can talk to anyone (freedom of expression here). He would incur in a crime if his ruling favored one side disregarding the evidences

2. Greenwald associated himself with a group that hacked Moro's phone so that they could steal potentially incriminating information. He's being prosecuted because of that act, not because of his political agenda, or because "the government" is trying to cease his freedom of expression

3. The uncovered conversations between Moro and the prosecutors didn't uncover wrongdoing, as far as the law is concerned. Moro was open about his talks with the prosecutors and defense about 4 years ago, so that alleged "coordination" wasn't exactly "hidden"

4. Moro didn't "lead" any groups. All the cases that put many workers' party leaders in jail were judged by many other judges, in different stances of the judiciary, including the supreme court which is highly favorable of the workers party to this day

In essence this whole story is a smoke screen to try to incriminate a Judge and "forget" about the crimes committed by the workers party leaders by stating that "because Moro talked to prosecutors, the rulings were biased", and by stating that "a heroic journalist is having his freedoms of expression persecuted" while that journalist committed a crime exactly on the grounds of stopping other people to communicate by invading and stealing data from their devices.

Is attacking Grewnwald's character relevant here?

Anyways, if it is, Greenwald has been one of the most outspoken critics of many aspects of the Russiagate accusations against Trump(1); and in consideration of your aforementioned "liberal agenda" of his, it hardly makes any sense at all to label him on this hand a Trump defender--as he has been accused of--and on the other a 'liberal commie.'


I'm not attacking "Greenwald's character". I just observe that he uses his role of a journalist to push particularly hard for a leftist political agenda.

Greenwald has been criticizing Russiagate, but he's certainly not supporting Trump. He's very far from being a Trump defender if you've been following his work.

It's important to notice that he's not been charged for publishing those materials. He's been charged for giving instructions to the hackers about targets and contents, like a lider of the hackers. So, it's not a leak, it's a content obtained illegally through a series of crimes.

This is something journalists do all the time. If a source comes to you, even with illegally obtained materials, it is normal for a journalist to ask for more, that's their job.

Was it 'asking for more' or 'helping' with said activities?

I think there is materially a difference.

That said, I don't know the specifics of the case, I'd be interested in hearing if there is material legitimacy to the case.

If they are jailing a reporter for essentially publishing data and merely 'communicating' with individuals ... this would be bad.

Also - there is the question of the legitimacy of publishing hacked data.

If someone hacked into your phone, and published it, it would be a crime. If they gave it to a journalist, not a crime?

If there is uncovering of actual, illegal activities, then it changes the dynamic, but what if it's not? What if the 'details' are just embarrassing, or problematic for those hacked? Do we want to legitimise theft for political objectives?

I just read the part of accusation that was used to indicted Gleen Greenwald. There is no proof of collusion with the hacker. Actually in his communication with the hackers, he was very cautious . Also, the Supreme court had decided GG couldn't be investigated when he start publishing the conversations.

> If someone hacked into your phone, and published it, it would be a crime. If they gave it to a journalist, not a crime?

The hacking is a crime, the publishing isn't. But once you start giving direction to the hacker, you became the hacker accomplice.

> If there is uncovering of actual, illegal activities, then it changes the dynamic, but what if it's not? What if the 'details' are just embarrassing, or problematic for those hacked? Do we want to legitimise theft for political objectives?

That's whats happened in Brazil. There published communication didn't show any _unquestionably_ illegal activity. Even if did, the brazillian law don't allow to use illegally obtained proofs (unless if absolves someone).

> If someone hacked into your phone, and published it, it would be a crime. If they gave it to a journalist, not a crime?

It all depends on the contents of your phone. If you committed certain actions that are of public interest, and lied about and/or hide these actions (as is the case of the Brazilian group of judges and prosecutors), then it is imperative that journalists publish that content. Journalists are protected in their activity exactly because of this reason.

There is technically nothing that defines what a journalist is (in most cases), and "committed certain actions that are of public interest, and lied about and/or hide these actions" is an impossible grey area, technically difficult to define. Very, very vague.

By that logic, almost anything could be hacked and published on some arbitrary blog because of the very vague term 'public interest'.

If this is the threshold we're going to use than almost the majority of political communication, huge swaths of business communication, and large portions of personal information of anyone with a public profile can be subject to hacking and publication.

While it might be good that 'a liar was exposed somewhere in Brasil' - this might not be the path we want to go down.

Bazilian dude here. The problem is the hacker was asking him "who should we get the telegram messages from next". If a journalist know before hand about crimes that WILL BE committed and instructs the guy to continue, this is way beyond simply keeping your sources secret. And he also was instructing the guys on how to respond in case police came asking WHEN he hacked his victims, since if he hacked them after or during the time he was already in contact with Greenwald it would be a little bit strange to explain. Glen is a lefty, he hates Bolsonaro, ok. But he absolutely did commit various crimes here, conspiration, electronic fraud etc.

But in this case it is alleged Greenwald encouraged his source to commit a further crime, "Mr. Greenwald encouraged the hackers to delete archives that had already been shared with The Intercept Brasil, in order to cover their tracks."

You're making a moral argument, not a legal one.

People doing something "all the time" in one jurisdiction doesn't magically make it legal in a different one.

What they're doing to him may be 'legal' but it's definitely antidemocratic.

Is is legal for a journalist to ask for a hacker to get some private information about chosen politician in America? (Serious question).

This is true, and it even says in the article that Brazil protects journalists even if their source materials are obtained illegally.

Well, that's something that we need to think about: should we allow journalists to be free of charged when they know they sources is actively hacking someone to get those content?

I truly don't have an answer, but I think this ethical question must be done.

> should we allow journalists to be free of charged when they know they sources is actively hacking someone to get those content?

Should journalists be free of charge when they know the source is breaking the Espionage Act? New York Times v United States (1971) says "yes"

I think the diference is that the source of this case is a person that choose to colaborate.

In the case in question, we're talking about hacking private phones (not those provided by the government as corporate phone).

I don't think the same principle can be applied here.

The Times, by publishing classified information, were themselves potentially violating the Espionage Act (according to the government's assertion) - so the principle applies in more ways than by proxy. Which is why it was vital that the courts ruling affirmed the importance of a free press, despite laws that might be used to gag it.

Classified information is public information (belongs to the government and have a deadline to be disclosed), so makes sense to apply the same principle of New York Times v United States (1971).

But hacking private phones sounds like a new question to me.

This is not about the journalist knowing the information was obtained illegally. This is about the journalist asking the hacker to get information from people of interest.

That supreme court case has no bearing on Brazil. You might as well be quoting from the Talmud.

We don't need to think about it, the west has largely accepted that a journalist's role is to report the truth of what is happening, and to speak that truth to power. Charging somebody with a crime for upholding that responsibility is corruptly antidemocratic. There are no ethical quandaries to consider unless you feel obligated to play devil's advocate for power holders.

Ethically, if the information is in the public interest, ie it exposes some corruption or something illegal that the government is doing that is a detriment to the people it's representing then I think the answer is obviously yes. From a legal standpoint, I don't know, but if the answer is a no then that's a problem with the legal system more than anything.

There are legal protections in the US for journalists that don't exist de facto or de jure in many other countries.

It is in Brazilian Constitution that explicitly states that journalists can protect their sources. It is political persecution.

Ironically, he Intercept published conversations from another news site with their source. They use the argument "the law protects the secret of the source", yet reveal others sources.

Yes, but the Brazilian Constitution is basically a "suggestion" for Jair Bolsonaro, even more than the US Constitution is a suggestion for Donald Trump. Clearly the Brazilian Constitution does not have the protection of force, which is ultimately what gives a law its existence.

asking for more is not the same as telling the person what to target.

> Mr. Greenwald encouraged the hackers to delete archives that had already been shared with The Intercept Brasil, in order to cover their tracks.

so he was an active participant, according to prosecution

Like Julian Assange. That's how authoritarian governments go after journalists, by pretending some law was violated in the process of obtaining and publishing the incriminating material.

Oof. I don’t know why he would stay in Brazil while publishing stuff that embarrassed powerful interests in Brazil. You can do that shit in Canada, in Brazil you’re lucky to not get a bullet.

Surprised to see this comment downvoted.

Journalists (and basically anyone against those in power) are killed routinely in Brazil. It's not even a big deal in these countries. [1]

[1] - https://cpj.org/americas/brazil/

Doubt it's not a big deal - it's just not known the value of these people killed, and who is doing it, because people don't fucking read - ironically.

Same in US.

He has husband and 4 kids in Brazil. Not easy to move when you have roots in a place.

> Not easy to move when you have roots in a place.

As a Brazilian in voluntary exile due to the violence, I'd respectfully point out that it's also not easy to move when you're dead

"Many courageous Brazilians sacrificed their liberty and even life for Brazilian democracy and against repression, and I feel an obligation to continue their noble work." - Greenwald to The Daily Beast today

His husband is a Brazilian politician too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Miranda_(politician)

David Miranda was elect as substitute to another congressman. I don't think he has the public support to be elect by himself.

He only became a congressman when the other politician abdicate the position due life threats.

"Life threats", you mean

According to a recent interview he did on a podcast, Useful Idiots with Matt Taibi and Katie Halper, he cannot even leave his house without armed security forces. It's a scary life that he lives.

You can publish a handful of stories from abroad but continuing and actually making a larger impact is hard to do from outside the country. If you are able to it's most likely because of other people who did stay are are risking their lives by feeding you information.

His husband is Brazilian, and his investigative journalism has probably been far more effective as a result of his physical presence in the country.

"l. You can do that shit in Canada"

Why would it be legal or even moral to steal property in order to 'embarrass' someone?

This is a very slippery slope. Stealing stuff and then hiding behind 'journalism' is problematic to the extent that there is no material, legal, whistleblowing.

We have to figure out the lines that can and should be crossed, otherwise it won't be good for anyone.

He exposed evidence of criminal behavior by a judge that was trying to conceal his activities which are subject to public scrutiny via using his personal phone.

What a judge does in the course of his work is not his own personal property.

Actually, he didn't expose any criminal evidence. After all is said and done, nothing found in the conversations he [ilegally] acquired that demonstrates wrongdoing by the judge.

>nothing found in the conversations he [ilegally] acquired that demonstrates wrongdoing by the judge.

"In the files, conversations between lead prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol and then-presiding Judge Sergio Moro reveal that Moro offered strategic advice to prosecutors and passed on tips for new avenues of investigation. With these actions, Moro grossly overstepped the ethical lines that define the role of a judge. In Brazil, as in the United States, judges are required to be impartial and neutral, and are barred from secretly collaborating with one side in a case."


Are you claiming these conversations never happened?

These conversations happened in the clear. It was well known and disclosed at the time of the investigations that this judge (and a few others) were exchanging information about the case with prosecutors and defenders.

Also, "tips for new avenues of investigation" may be ethically questionable (although it's hard to make the case for that), it's not crime at all. It would be crime if the judge was taking sides in the ruling, which that specific judge is not accused of.

I made no reference to 'he'. I asked a rhetorical question about the limits of theft and information.

"He exposed evidence of criminal behavior " - if this is true, it seems the exposition is warranted - but still there are still questions about where the line is between theft and journalism.

Also - I'm not an expert but I'm actually quite doubtful that this was criminal activity that was exposed.

" a judge that was trying to conceal his activities which are subject to public scrutiny via using his personal phone" - this is not criminal in the vast majority of cases.

Richard Nixon had to resign from the presidency for breaking into opposition property to try to get information to 'embarrass them'. Would he have been sanction had he just turned the information over to the press?

There is a legit grey area here: you can't steal stuff just because you might think it's wrong. We make reasonable accommodation when there is actually criminal activity, but it's pretty fuzzy still.

Your comment reads like Glenn Greenwald did this to steal and publish nude pics of Bolsonaro, as opposed to evidence of his improper collaboration with the judge who paved his way to the presidency by putting Lula in prison.

I wasn't speaking of Greenwald specifically.

But the problem is in your comment 'improper collaboration'.

Who decides what is 'improper' or not? I'd imagine the Republicans think almost everything Democrats do is 'improper' by some measure - can they steal and then publish information?

This is very grey and needs to be cleared up or it will be a really ugly new kind of information war.

First of all, Greenwald did not steal anything, and he is being charged because he actively engaged in covering the hackers' tracks. That is criminal in Canada, Brazil or US... I am pretty sure that had Mr Greenwald been in Canada he'd be charged by now. It is precisely why he is in Brazil. Because Brazil is a Banana Republic where the powerful and well connected can get away with most of the things unless the evidence is very clear. Greenwald has a wide net of supporters in Brazil who are very powerful, starting with the Worker's Party, the Communist Party of Brazil and so one. Not to mention his husband who is a congressman himself.

Of course he would be. He recently talked about his adventures in brazil to the Taibbi&Halper podcast : https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K05mVkmF8Bk

I hope he manages to skip out of this cause his kind of reporting is rare.

The accusation [1] is public. I will translate the highlight parts of the conversation transcription between the hacker and Gleen Greenwald.

In another thread I discussed how they hacked the Telegram accounts.

Page 58:

> MOLIÇÃO: Like it happened with Danilo Gentilli, the MBL and Holiday. We got [their Telegram account] last october. They only started talking [on the news] about this [Telegram hacking] now.

Some context:

Danilo Gentilli is a liberal tv show host that was very vocal on the last election; MBL is acronym to "Free Brazil Movement"; Holiday is a politician with MBL affiliation.

In Brazil, the liberals are the right-wings. Their motto is "Liberal on the economy and conservative on the customs", custom as traditional practice.

On page 58:

> GG: Because, for instance, if they knew that someone is getting ready to publish [the hacked conversations], or worst, that we [The InterceptBR] are ready to publish, they would get an judicial order to forbid the publication or reporting of this material. But so far, no one have done that. Therefore, it look like they don't know who has "this material".

> GG: They know someone have this, but they don't know who has it.

> M: Yes. We also want to know your opinion about something... Once you publish the articles, everyone will exclude their conversations, everyone will exclude their Telegram. We want to know what do you suggest us should to do. We have some names separated, we can get [their conversation from Telegram] this weekend or leave it for a while. [I ask this]because, there are some people that already changed their number, we can't get their conversations anymore.

Page 60.

> GG [black text included]: Yes. Look, we are going to [??], what is going to happen? They are going for sure try to accuse us in participating in the hacking. They are going to accuse that us of being part on the hacking attempt. For sure, they are going to accuse us. So, I'll keep the messages for myself, the messages are the proof that you only talked to us after you already done everything. This is very important for us as journalist to show that our source only talked after they already had everything.

Page 61.

> GG [only text in red]: We already saved everything, we received everything. I think you had any reason to keep any of this, understood?

In the bold text, Molicao asks if they should hack more people, he wanted to know GG opnion.

Page 62.

> GG: Yes, yes. This is difficult because I can't give you advice but I've the obligation to protect my source and this obligation is a very serious obligation, very serious. We are going to do everything we can to do this, understood?

> GG [only red text]: Also, we are going to say we received everything before those articles from the other week about Moro [begin hacked], about the other hacking.

[1] https://politica.estadao.com.br/blogs/fausto-macedo/wp-conte...

It's funny to contrast Greenwald's situation with that of people in the US press who hate his guts, all while they bemoan the Trump admin's threats to press freedom. This is what happens to journalists who actually speak truth to power, rather than flatter it while indulging in a bunch of self-congratulatory theater.


Why does it have to be one or the other?

If you're 'speaking truth to power' only when it suits your already formed opinion, then you're not really speaking truth.

You're speaking truth whenever what you're saying is true.

Sure. But you can still be lying by omission. Does the phrase "speaking truth to power" still apply if you are also lying by omission?

I challenge you to find a single journalist who isn't "lying by omission".

Even the most ethical journalist in the world would have limited time, a limited network of sources, a reader base that prefers coverage of specific issues, and personal interests that drive the direction of their reporting.

From my perspective, accurate reporting on a limited set of issues is much preferred over "truthy" reporting on a broader set of issues.

> I challenge you to find a single journalist who isn't "lying by omission".

If we're issuing challenges, then I challenge you to prove that every single journalist IS lying by omission.

A lie by omission is intentionally leaving out facts to misrepresent the truth. Another way to describe it is that a lie by omission is the cherry-picking of facts.

This differs from providing a limited subset of the facts for other reasons. You may not have all the facts yourself, you may not be certain of every fact you have, you may be practically limited by the amount of information that you can convey to your audience (perhaps because the audience only wants to read a 1-page article instead of 10, or perhaps because you don't have the time to write 10 pages instead of 1). In none of these cases are you necessarily lying by omission, as long as you choose to present facts that are representative of the broader set of facts that you have instead of cherry-picking facts to match a given narrative. You may still have implicit bias; that does not mean you are lying by omission because you are not necessarily intending to be biased.

Do you believe that every single journalist is intentionally skewing the truth and cherry-picking their facts to match a hidden agenda? I don't.

All right, well if you want to use a reasonable definition of lying by omission then I agree with your premise that most journalists are not lying by omission. I would extend that to say that Greenwald also does not lie by omission. He has his beat, he covers it well, and he has been good about accuracy.

Edit: That's not to say that he's completely unbiased (especially on Twitter), he is human after all. But generally I have been very happy with his reporting, especially since he dares to report on subjects that other parts of the media ignore completely.

Yes. The true statement remains true.

> If you're 'speaking truth to power' only when it suits your already formed opinion, then you're not really speaking truth.

So truth now has another filter. Only what padseeker thinks is fairly presented? /snark

Truth can be communicated many different ways. The interpretation of that truth as non-truth or overvaluing the information or failing to hear out other aspects (because it's presented a specific way) is a failure of the recipient, not the sender. Truth is truth, even if you don't like how it was presented.

So having bias necessarily makes one's argument untrue?

Love or hate Greenwald, Brazil has less press freedom than the United States and Trump has made numerous statements indicating he would like to impose more restrictions on the press. https://rsf.org/en/ranking

The fact is that he worked direct with the hackers to hack government information. He is gonna go through the judicial system as everyone does


Yes, we all remember when the CIA officers responsible for the torture program were prosecuted, or when James Clapper was indicted for lying to Congress, or when the Boeing executives who knowingly sold a plane with safety flaws were brought up on criminal charges. Imagine the threat to the rule of law if we allowed offenders like Greenwald to go unpunished!


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Nearly always, commenters who post like this underestimate how large the HN community is, and therefore how divided it is. This causes them to see a huge unexplained hole when comments show up which strike them as outrageously wrong and biased, and then the mind finds it impossible to resist filling in the hole with sinister imaginations: cloak-and-dagger brigades, astroturfing, and all the rest.

When you rush to HN to post those suspicions, you end up undermining and dividing the community even further, as well as changing the topic to something useless, since it's founded on imagination. The solution is not to post such insinuations unless you have objective information that goes beyond how you feel. By "you", of course, I'm not picking on you personally—I mean all of us. This is a bias we all have, and it's super hard to resist when the feeling is strong, because it seems almost impossible that the outrageous comments could be appearing in good faith. In reality, though, what you're experiencing is how intense the underlying social divide is. HN has many users in Brazil. As Brazilian politics is divided, Brazilian politics on HN is divided. And HN has been split down the middle about Greenwald for a long time.

There's an endless stream of prior explanations at https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20astroturf&sort=byDat..., because this problem is perennial.

p.s. I wish I didn't have to add this, but probably do: this is not a pro-Bolsonaro or anti-Greenwald comment. It is simply pro-HN, based on what makes threads higher vs. lower quality.

I find this quite disgusting. There are many more outrageous violations on HN where you do not post, yet you appear under this particular one. Interesting indeed.

I understand there's a need to enforce some etiquette, however Brazil may be close to a time Germany was in 1933, not sure this is the time to call both sides equal.

> Don't be deceived, Greenwald is a political prisoner.

He's not arrested, nor his passport.

To be political prisoner you need to be in prison first.

This might be a political persecution, but saying he is a political prisoner is a bit of stretch.

It will take several years for his case to be appreciate by every last instance (in Brazil we have 3 instances). Even if he is found guilty, he won't be sentenced to jail.

Usually talk of astroturfing on HN gets you and admonishment from the powers that be. Let’s see what happens.

We've entered an era where hounding and intimidating journalists is considered a legitimate political position. So they probably really are genuine far right users, Brazilian and otherwise, swept up by the reality distorting extremism of the day.

And their influence will continue to expand so long as they are able to shout down, spam and vandalize venues that might have been used to find solutions.

In my city I often hear people joking that they'll "move to Canada" if politics gets too annoying for them e.g. Trump is re-elected. I imagine for them, spending a few minutes with Greenwald's principles would be a 2001: A Space Odyssey-level of alien environment.

Last time I checked Glenn Greenwald was saying that Russian interference had nothing to do with results of the last election and Hillary lost because she was a bad candidate. I have no quibble with the bad candidate line, but it's pretty clear that the Russians we're actively involved trying to get Trump elected. I think some people have legitimate disagreements with Glenn.

Foreign interference is a big deal and shouldn't be overlooked.

But I just don't think its plausible that the identified Russian activities swung the election. The Russian fake news trolls were a drop in the ocean of social media/news. The russia spend on facebook was 0.05 percent of the candidates (not even going to mention the free posting by individual supporters). FB estimated that 1 out of ~20 thousand pieces of "content" it served related to the election was russian.

In order to believe they had an impact, you have to believe russia ads/fake news are almost infinitely more persuasive than other propaganda, ads, news, etc.

Asking whether they "swung" the election is an unnecessarily high bar. The question is whether they influenced the election, and the answer is a pretty clear yes. Russian hacks of the DNC and John Podesta, and the ensuing leaks, drove front-page headlines and cable news coverage for weeks in aggregate, if not more.

The DNC came out with the story about the Russian hack very quickly; they can't possibly have known it was them with any accuracy.

It could easily have been a leak, and the Russia story was simply to deflect from the content of the leak.

No, it was definitely the Russians. In addition to the clear and definitive attribution by federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies, there was significant work by private industry to support the attribution. For example the phishing email that got Podesta was included in the leak of his inbox, and traced back to phishing infrastructure that had previously (i.e. before the DNC and Podesta hacks happened) been attributed to one of the Russian APTs.

If the DNC leak impacted the election, should the blame be on leaker or on the people responsible. The DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over the content of the emails, and the DNC issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders and his supporters over the conduct during the election.

It seems a bit like blaming the NBCUniversal for leaking the audio tape of trumps lewd conversation about women, rather than trump.

A big question is how influence the three major leaks had on the election, and from an outside perspective it seems insane that the whole US political direction get decided on embarrassing leaks rather than political subjects.

IIRC the DNC was using Crowstrike for their AV and security who interestingly has a lot of their company based in Ukraine, and both CS and DNC refused to allow the FBI access to servers and logs to verify the Russian attack.

IDK much about much, but that sure does seem questionable to me.

The RNC has since hired Crowdstrike too, even as Republican officials they support have said lots of stuff about Crowdstrike and Ukraine. The public statements are all for show.

I’m not sure that’s a big vote of confidence for me. The other take on what you wrote is the RNC watched the DNC skirt over any sort of responsibility to allow authorities to investigate such a claim and want in on that action.

The Crowdstrike line is another primary talking point of the paid Russian propagandists.

A talking point belonging to a group one dislikes does not make it invalid.

If someone else had looked at the servers, it seems likely we would have heard of it by now...

So is it the Russians or the media reaction that made the difference? If I recall correctly one of Greenwald's main theses is that click-thirsty coverage of exciting-sounding stories overwhelmed more substantial topics in the 2016 election.

The Russians definitely found a flaw in the way the U.S. works with political information today, and exploited it for a big effect. And I don't think that flaw is fixed as we head into this election.

So, I agree with Greenwald that a broken media environment made it possible. But I disagree with him that that casts doubt on Russian involvement, or invalidates Russian activity as a topic of national concern.

Did Greenwald ever say he doubts Russian involvement? I know he on the side of "Trump didn't conspire" and feels that the rest of the media is mishandling the matter, but I don't think he's ever disputed the actual meddling.

(Correct me if I'm wrong; if he's actually disputing the existence of the meddling he'd go down a few notches in my esteem).

Greenwald wanted evidence presented of the meddling, but that it was something the US and Russia both regularly do.


Podesta got phished. The actual email that phished him is available on Wikileaks for anyone to examine. Anyone who can set up a website and send an email can phish. Invoking Podesta as proof of "Russian hacks" says a lot more about you than about Trump (for whom I would never vote) or Russia (with whom I hope we don't have a stupid war).

A. Posesta had a password of P@ssw0rd iirc. Let’s not pretend this required some nation state espionage. He had a bad password AND entered credentials into a phishing site. He pretty much had it coming sooner or later.

B. The CONTENT of Podesta’s emails were the problem for Clinton. How much money she took from Wall Street, her public and private opinions depending who she was talking to, the very real pay-to-play “Donations” to her fund while she was Secretary. Her collusion with the media, including asking Trump to be propped up with coverage as a pied piper she “knew” she could beat. Russia didn’t make her do things that looked bad when made public, or make her skip campaigning in key states. I’m a little shocked at how all the hate is directed to the assumed-Russian messenger, when the real problem was she truly was a bad candidate who did bad things. she is responsible for Trump in many ways, yet, people years later still defending her. Makes no sense.

Edit: ok, hide the truth, don’t thank Clinton for Trump even though that’s what happened.

Pointing to the amount spent and then declaring it impossible Russia swung the election is an extremely questionable argument coming from a user of this site. User targeting is the X-factor for facebook advertising; no one on this website believes that any X dollars spent on advertising is equivalent to any other X dollars spent. The fact that Russia microtargeted swing voters and voters in key states, and with the help of Cambridge Analytica data crafted messages for specific demographics, must be central to an analysis of whether they swung the election.

Would you accuse other campaigns of swinging the election for using similar tactics? For example in Obama's 2012 campaign his online organizing director admitted to micro-targeting, harvesting of friends lists (and admitting the users of their app probably didn't know this, and it's now against FB ToS). [1]

This same person recently founded a company that publicly boasted its tech could "sway" the 2020 election. [2]

[1] https://www.npr.org/2018/03/25/596805347/how-does-cambridge-...

[2] https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/01/higher-ground-labs/

A strange reply considering the context. The moral judgment in the subtext of my comment isn't on swaying the election, its on foreign nation. The candidates and their agents are legitimately looking to sway the election in their favor. That's what campaigning is. That Obama's activities were in an effort to sway the election in his favor is an uninteresting point.

We'll probably never know with certainty exactly how much it changed things.

But we can do a lot more to ensure our elections are free from foreign influence in the future.

One way might be to do something about the guy going on TV to ask foreign countries to dig up dirt on a rival.

> do something about the guy going on TV to ask foreign countries to dig up dirt on a rival.

Hillary deleted 30,000 emails after a subpoena was issued. Trump suggested that since other countries had hacked her server they probably had the 30,000 deleted emails and they could turn them over to help the investigation.

Also, our political leadership could stop engaging in corrupt behavior, so that hacking their electronic communications is of little value to foreign powers trying to sway our elections.

I downvoted you because your comment has nothing to do with the charges at hand. No one said you have to agree with everything Greenwald says.

FYI I was trying to reply to DanBissel's comments about how GG is the only one capable of telling the truth and the rest of the media is compromised. I don't want GG to be charged or go to jail. DanBissel's comments were not quite related to the post. But that's fair, I can understand your justification. I respect your downvote.

That sounds pretty worrying, as I often respect his commentary and journalism. Can you link to or quote where he claimed what you're saying he did about Russian interference?

"Journalist Glenn Greenwald told Hill.TV's "Rising" on Monday that the news media's response to the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report is "genuinely stunning," accusing the press of continuing to promote the "conspiracy" that President Trump's campaign conspired with Russia in 2016." ...

“The reality is that for three years there has been a conspiracy theory that has dominated our political and media discourse, which is that Donald Trump conspired with Russia over the 2016 election and that he’s an agent of the Russian government along with many of his associates," he continued.


He's been very outspoken that he thinks the Russian interference is bs. His angle seems to be the Democrats aren't liberal enough.


He's referencing this direct quote from the Mueller report:

"Volume I of the report concludes that the investigation did not find sufficient evidence that the campaign "coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities"

Seems pretty cut and dry.

It's not.

Investigators ultimately had an incomplete picture of what happened due to communications that were encrypted, deleted or unsaved, as well as testimony that was false, incomplete or declined. However, the report stated that Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was illegal and occurred "in sweeping and systematic fashion", but was welcomed by the Trump campaign as it expected to benefit from such efforts. It also identifies links between Trump campaign officials and individuals with ties to the Russian government, about which several persons connected to the campaign made false statements and obstructed investigations. Mueller later stated that his investigation's conclusion on Russian interference "deserves the attention of every American".


Am I the only one that believes that such narrative and speculative writing style by officials is actively harmful to democracy?

Phrases like:

- in sweeping and systematic fashion

- was welcomed by the Trump campaign

- links between

- ties to

- connected to

Granted, communicating the complexities of reality is very difficult, but I sincerely do not believe that a serious effort has been made in this case (or is in other cases, in general) to as accurately and clearly as possible communicate(!) that which is "known" (including the degree of certainty), versus that which is suspected, etc.

Psychologists and neurologists have very little understanding of the underlying mechanisms by which people form beliefs, but they do know that it is extremely complex, and can easily be demonstrated to be highly prone to error or manipulation.

Considering this, in a serious political system (as seems to be the common claim of what we have in Western democratic nations), I would expect more bi-partisan (among politicians and citizens) acknowledgement of these shortcomings, and support for a process of continuous improvement in the manner in which the public is informed of affairs. But instead, I rarely see this idea discussed, and it seems to me the aggregate manner in which reality is being described to us is becoming more chaotic/uncertain/indecipherable, not less.

My intuition tells me this is not accidental, but of course there is no way of knowing if that is true or not. But, I think it would be beneficial for the public to become more aware of this phenomenon, and start drawing attention to this attribute of public discussions on a regular basis - in doing so, perhaps the quality of discourse could be improved.

Your intuition is correct. This is not accidental. Those phrases are used because certain things are known with a high degree of certainty. Meetings between Trump campaign members and Natalia Veselnitskaya's group lend credence to those phrases[1]. There is a significant evidence documenting Russian Interference (consider the IRA involvement alone) and the links between the Trump campaign and Russians[2], some of which fell within the investigative scope of Mueller's team.

A nuanced report that concluded the existence of foreign interference, of campaign links to that foreign interference, and also of not significant enough evidence to conclude coordination between the two groups is going to include a lot of nuance in the phrasing of its conclusion.



> Your intuition is correct. This is not accidental. Those phrases are used because certain things are known with a high degree of certainty.

I suspect we differ on what my intuition is. If I'm not mistaken, you seem to believe this style of language is because of the nuanced nature of the issue, whereas my intuition is that the style of language is chosen to ~muddy the waters and sow confusion. We're each entitled to our respective opinions, but neither of us knows what the reality is.

Various issues in this drama are "known", with varying degrees of certainty. Something important to keep in mind though, is that degree of certainty on complex, subjective (indeterminate) matters often varies significantly per person. Reality is often a lot messier than people like to acknowledge.

My point is roughly: there is a tremendous range of public opinion on this matter (and many others), with each individual likely being extremely confident that their belief is the correct one. It also seems fairly reasonable that hardly anyone on either side has actually read the report in question.

This seems like an undesirable state of affairs in a democratic nation. It seems to me that, at the very least, it would be possible and beneficial for an alternative, non-narrative based, summary of "just the discrete facts" (with accompanying certainty declarations, etc) document to be produced that would facilitate greater effective transparency, as well as improve the public's ability form beliefs that are more consistent with reality (and presumably in turn, decrease the variance/polarization in beliefs).

Although, based on my observations of social media discussions and voting patterns, I not only see little support for this sort of idea, but instead rather strong opposition to it. It seems like most people, on either side of the divide, desire certain things to be true, as opposed to desiring to know the truth of what has actually happened. If my intuition is correct, this seems like a harmful mindset for voters in a democracy to hold, not to mention the second order harm in areas such as general public harmony, and willingness to cooperate on other important initiatives such as climate change.

> did not find sufficient evidence

That doesn't mean there wasn't evidence to be found. Bear in mind that there was obstruction to the investigation.

>That doesn't mean there wasn't evidence to be found.

How can anyone ever clear their name with a mentality like this? They investigated and didn't find sufficient evidence. Saying, "yeah, but there could be evidence" means nothing will convince you.

> How can anyone ever clear their name with a mentality like this?

I was trying to be polite because this is getting political. I could counter your question with one of my own:

How can you convict someone when his supporters won't believe any evidence they don't like?

There was active obstruction into the investigation. From the Mueller investigation itself.

“Our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations,” Mueller wrote. “The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels. These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.”

"Russia did not try to influence the US election" and "Trump did not actively conspire with Russia" are two very different claims.

There's a big difference between saying Trump didn't conspire with the Russians (what Greenwald said" and saying the Russians didn't attempt to interfere. It's astonishing how people conflate these two things

I find this topic to be one of the single most interesting of the last 10 years.

It’s the only story I’ve ever experienced first hand that seems to represent an actual instance of mass hysteria.


Persuasive discussion with people on the “other side” on this topic appears to be absolutely impossible.

Ive just given up on Americans who believe this Russian collusion narrative. It’s like talking to people in a cult or who are insane.

I know liberals exist who don’t fall prey to this thinking- but they’re not well represented in mainstream and social media universe.

It is such a sad development.

I mean, Greenwald has a lot of followers online and tons of liberal leaders supported him against this charge when they could have ignored it. I think some of the most vocal people are the most deluded... and the upper class Dem establishment incentivizes focus away from them and punishes focus on them. So you get a magnified effect

>but it's pretty clear that the Russians we're actively involved trying to get Trump elected.

Really? It's my understanding that the Russians were sowing controversy for all parties and all kinds of people. Intelligence officers have testified that this was the case during the impeachment hearings.


Posting like this breaks the site guidelines. Would you please review them and stick to them in the future?


If you want more explanation, I posted elsewhere in the thread about a similar case: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22110856

It's possible for the Russians to be actively involved in trying to get Trump elected and for Russian interference to have nothing to do with the results of the last election. The conclusion would simply be that the Russians sucked at their election meddling, or more neutrally, that foreign interference is dwarfed by the independent effect of charisma on 200M American voters.

> on 200M American voters

The election where 200M people vote will be a record. By a large large margin. I think the highest turnout has been 120M.

How about the fact that Trump was the only thing on TV news for 1.5 years before the election? ISTM that helped more than a few thousand dollars of FB or Adwords spending by alleged "Russians", especially for the old folks who actually voted for him. My grandmother has never heard of Facebook, but she's got Fox or CNN on all day.

American news media firms are always prepared to blame others for their own actions.

When elections are this close, it's impossible to say that any one factor had "nothing to do" with the outcome.

It was clear this was going to be a problem after the 2000 Presidential election came down to a few semi-literate Floridians. One definition of "chaos" is a system involving large numbers with sensitive dependence on very small margins, and that's what we have here.

Edit: Well, I guess we're still hearing from the semi-literate Floridians. What are the high schools teaching kids about that election, anyway?

You're probably getting downvoted for a number of reasons.

First, a big reason you didn't mention is that Nader running as a third party syphoned votes primarily from Gore.

Second, the butterfly ballots are a bad design. If you were to design a software interface in the same way and with the same failure modes as a butterfly ballot then you can't blame the user for not understanding it. Those ballots were not designed with usabilty in mind - calling people who failed to use them properly 'illiterate' is placing the blame in the wrong place.

Third, a plausable implication from your above comment is that you believe that people who didn't vote for the candidate you prefer are somehow less intelligent than you. I'm not saying that was your intent, but I can see how somebody might draw that conclusion from your comment.

> When elections are this close, it's impossible to say that any one factor had "nothing to do" with the outcome.

Technically, it's incredibly easy to "say" whether any one factor had nothing to do with the outcome - in fact, this seems to be the overwhelmingly normal behavior of individuals, the media, and government officials.

What's impossible is to know whether any one factor had nothing to do with the outcome. More interestingly, it also seems nigh impossible for people on either side of the dispute to simply acknowledge that great certainty exists everywhere within the complexity of life, that we simply do not know what has taken place in this situation, or in the thousands of others that people argue about, with many of these arguments having a lifespan of decades if not longer.

It may seem like a trite idea, but I believe that if we could have more widespread realization and acceptance of this fundamental truth, perhaps we could move beyond this increasingly deep rut of partisan bickering we seem to find ourselves in.

I don't think this will go far, for Greenwald. He didn't invade the Telegram accounts; other people did, yet another people used (and propably paid for) the service, one of them is a hard-left politician that happens to be Greenwald's husband.

His involvement was to put the weight of his name to defend his husband's actions. And yes, I look down on Greenwald now, while I used to look up to him when I read 'No Place to Hide', for a variety of reasons.

Bolsonaro is a Trump-like clown but make a little research why people voted on the clown first.

I was under the impression that people voted for Bolsonaro because they are fed up with a corrupt system. Lula de Silva (who actually was massively popular) was jailed for "corruption" in Operation Car Wash. However, as we now know thanks to Greenwald, this anti-corruption fight was corrupt in itself, and the person overseeing the investigation was cooperating with the prosecutors to strengthen their case. And this same person now holds major office under Bolsonaro.. So what does that say about the whole premise for having a Bolsonaro to 'change the corrupt system'?

> However, as we now know thanks to Greenwald, this anti-corruption fight was corrupt in itself, and the person overseeing the investigation was cooperating with the prosecutors to strengthen their case.

That is according to Greenwald. Judges and prosecutors talk all the time in private. This is your opinion. Many in Brazil and abroad don't think such practice configures collusion. Especially if you read the transcripts, it is far from being damming to Mr Moro and the prosecutors.

Some would argue that when you have changing governments (as opposed to a single "party"/"faction" for a long time), the level of corruption tends to be more in check... (this is because new governments don't have "the reigns" on every different area of the government, and also because this bolsters the opposition to "dig for dirt"...

The level of corruption in Brazil now adays (as a product of the nearly 4 mandates under Lula) is extreme. It was enough of an extreme that the people decided to elect an almost unknown, highly polarizing figure such as Bolsonaro...

Politicians and underwear should be changed often imo!

Ok that's fine but should you change these politicians through what ends up being an essentially corrupt and biased process?

This is exactly the story Greenwald is selling, which I disagree with in many points.

What points? You make it sound as if he stood to profit from this when the outcome has been clearly the opposite, and he himself had predicted it to be as much. His family has been getting death threats as a result of his work, and these carry a lot more weight in Brasil then they would in some country like the US or somewhere in Europe.

He is a very credible journalist and his story was widely well-received, his methods of procuring the information aside. If you have disagreements you should state them instead of just stating that you 'have them'

Just because Mr Greenwald is facing death threats as a result of his work doesn't mean he is 100% on his interpretation of the story. Also you forgot to mention that Greenwald's husband is a congressman which means they enjoy some enhanced security. Also you need to mention that the Brazilian's Worker's Party (the largest party in Congress) has Mr Greenwald's back. He is far from being alone in Brazi, there is a broad support from the establishment. It doesn't mean that his worries about his security are overblown, my point is that he enjoys a great deal of support especially from journalists, politicians and the Brazilian last instance's judges.

I did not know that and that is reassuring.

People are so politically polarized these days, I feel it is a waste of time trying to argue.

But you are arguing. Arguing without providing facts.

Justifying the election of someone who talked about eliminate opposition, paid tribute to a torturer and appointed a nazi as minister of culture, you really show how politically polarized are the things.

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