Welcome to your Wednesday edition of The Morning Roar!
Did the U.S. Government Squash the Latest Snowden Revelations from Glenn Greenwald?
It would certainly appear so. Last night, after teasing a “big reveal” from the Snowden documents over the last month or two, heroic journalist and author of No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, sent out the following tweet:
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 30, 2014
It sure did sound like a big revelation was on the way, and I was poised to pounce on the story, even logging on to Greenwald’s journalistic home The Intercept in the wee hours of the night to check for the story. But alas, even well past midnight pacific time there was still no story. As I said “WTF” to myself, I decided to head back to Greenwald’s Twitter for an update. And here’s what he wrote:
After 3 months working on our story, USG today suddenly began making new last-minute claims which we intend to investigate before publishing — Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 1, 2014
In No Place to Hide, Greenwald explained how most journalistic organizations, such as the The Washington Post and Greenwald’s former employer The Guardian will always contact the U.S. government before they are about to reveal classified material. Greenwald himself expressed how this practice bothered him, but explained that they do it in order to avoid possible espionage charges, and to allow the government the opportunity to discredit the documents or point out any possible national security risks before going ahead to publish. While technically these organizations are not obtaining “permission” from the U.S. government, it is largely seen by most as a necessary step in the process.
So was this the big reveal regarding who the NSA has been spying on? What are the “last-minute claims” being made by the U.S. government that would prevent the release of this story which they have known about for months?
That Other Supreme Court Ruling
You wouldn’t have known it with all the hoopla surrounding the Hobby Lobby decision, complete with my slightly different take on the matter. If you took a second to blink, you might have missed the other ruling issued by the Supreme Court on Monday, this one involving public sector unions and their ability to collect dues from public sector workers who benefit from union contracts, even if they never agreed to join the union in the first place.
Adam Serwer of MSNBC.com describes the case at hand:
In 2003, Illinois passed a law that substantially strengthened the unions by recognizing home health-care workers providing rehabilitation services as public employees and allowing them to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. The workers are paid through the federally funded Medicaid program, but the court ruled that they are “partial public employees” and therefore can’t be compelled to contribute to the unions.
“Other than providing compensation, the State’s role is comparatively small,” Alito wrote.
The workers weren’t compelled to join the union, but even if they didn’t money was deducted out of their paycheck to pay union dues, because the union ultimately represents them in negotiations with management over pay and working conditions – by law the money cannot be used for the union’s political activities.
In 2009, Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn added a new category of home health-care workers, those performing disability services, to those eligible for unionization.
The law was challenged by a group of home health-care workers who didn’t want to pay union dues and argued being forced to violated their First Amendment rights, a cause that was then taken up by the anti-labor National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The standard libertarian / conservative line is usually to just bash unions and oppose them outright. I don’t take such a combative stance. While I personally haven’t felt the need to join a union despite opportunities in my career when I could have chosen to do so, I see no problem with workers deciding to unionize in order to attempt to get better benefits, working conditions, etc. The problem is when the government steps in between the employer / union relationship and starts favoring one side or the other.
By the same token, nobody should be forced to join an organization that they do not wish to join. The fact that a worker may “benefit” from a previously negotiated union contract may rub some union members the wrong way, but it shouldn’t negate a workers right not to associate with or pay dues to the union.
Of course, all of this is complicated by the fact that we live in a highly cartelized, corporatist economy where most people have no choice but to find whatever job is available, and in some sense some may see unions as a way to simply combat the injustice inherent in our system. But at the end of the day, the principles of free association should win out.
Rep. Thomas Massie Calls for Declassification of 9/11 Documents
Representative Thomas Massie has certainly been hard at work in trying spread a little sunshine and freedom in Congress since he was elected in 2012. Last month we discussed his fight to legalize hemp production in his home state of Kentucky, and even chewed on some hemp on live TV to prove how ridiculous keeping this plant illegal was.
Now, Massie is leading the charge to declassify 28 pages of 9/11 report documents that the government has refused to release to the public. Massie has read the documents himself, and his description of them – as far as he is allowed to reveal – is fascinating:
At your insistence, and because I trust you when you say ‘This is something you need to read,’ I went into the soundproof, you know, secret room here in Congress and read those 28 pages. And it was a really disturbing event for me to read those. I had to stop every two or three pages and rearrange my perception of history. And it’s that fundamental — those 28 pages….
It certainly changes your view of the Middle East, I think. And, again, we’re talking about the dynamics in Iraq these days and whether we should be involved and, if we get involved, in what capacity and what could be the outcome. To make that decision, members of Congress need to go read those 28 pages. Families deserve to know exactly what happened.
We need to declassify those 28 pages….There is nothing in there that would affect our national security. Some of it may be embarrassing; that is why I believe those 28 pages have been withheld. And if in those 28 pages there is something where we don’t want to reveal sources, you could redact a sentence or two here and there, but the American people deserve to know what happened and what led up to 9/11 so that we can prevent the next one.
So what do these 9/11 reveal that could change a Congressman’s “perception of history?”
Hopefully soon we’ll at least have the answers to that question, or Greenwald’s big revelation – we’ll take either one!
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