Is Journalism a crime?

This is a letter from Rep. Alan Grayson containing information on a blogger/journalist who has been reporting on the NSA spying activities:

For several months, journalist Glenn Greenwald has reeled off one blockbuster article after another concerning the National Security Agency’s pervasive domestic and international electronic spying programs. For instance, Greenwald broke the story that the NSA receives a report on every single telephone call that anyone makes in America. This has incited the spying industrial complex and its allies to launch vicious attacks against Greenwald. For instance in June, on Fox News, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) called for Greenwald’s criminal prosecution. Luckily for Greenwald, although he is an American citizen, he lives in Brazil, and the newspaper that circulated his reports is based in England.

Congressman Alan Grayson, wanting to learn more about the scope of domestic spying, has invited Greenwald to provide a briefing to Congress in Washington, D.C. Given the threats to prosecute him, Greenwald has been reluctant to do so in person. So one month ago, Congressman Grayson sent a letter to Attorney General Holder, asking whether the AG would prosecute Greenwald if Greenwald came to D.C. to testify. Yesterday, we learned the answer. First, we’ll show you Congessman Grayson’s letter, and then we’ll share the AG’s response:
October 10, 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

My office has been in contact with Glenn Greenwald, a journalist for The Guardian, who has reported on previously undisclosed data-collection methods and privacy breaches by the National Security Agency. His reports have been based on information that he received from whistleblowers in his capacity as a journalist, not from personal knowledge. I asked Mr. Greenwald to meet in Washington, D.C. with me and my staff as part of my official duties. He is reluctant to do so, because he fears detention, and potentially prosecution, by the Department of Justice or other U.S. authorities.

Mr. Greenwald, a United States citizen currently living in Brazil, has been publicly attacked by Members of Congress such as Representative Peter King, who on multiple occasions has called for his arrest merely because of his reporting as a journalist on the NSA. The Chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Mike Rogers, have appeared to echo this threat, as have prominent foreign-policy commentators such as Alan Dershowitz and Marc Thiessen.

Moreover, activists and persons connected with this summer’s revelations about our country’s surveillance programs have already experienced government encounters that smack of intimidation. Mr. Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was detained for nine hours at London Heathrow Airport in August by U.K. law enforcement officials invoking the United Kingdom’s Terrorism Act. Baraa Shiban, a Yemeni anti-drone activist, was similarly detained at London Gatwick on September 24th and repeatedly questioned about his political work and opinions. Our own government, as detailed in documents reported by Mr. Greenwald, portrays political opposition to drone attacks and similar activism as part of “propaganda campaigns” by America’s “adversaries.” Therefore, Mr. Greenwald is concerned about similar difficulties should he return here.

I regard this as regrettable, because: (1) the commission of journalism is not a crime; (2) on the contrary, it is protected explicitly under the First Amendment; and (3) Mr. Greenwald’s reports regarding these subjects have, in fact, informed me, other Members of Congress, and the general public of serious, pervasive violations of law and constitutional rights committed by agents of the government. Bearing in mind that Mr. Greenwald is a citizen of the United States, please let me know: (1) whether the Department of Justice intends to bring charges against Mr. Greenwald, and (2) should Mr. Greenwald seek to enter the United States, whether the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, or any other office of the federal government intends to detain, question, arrest, or prosecute Mr. Greenwald, or to monitor or interfere in any way with his entry into or movement within the United States.

Sincerely,

Alan Grayson
Member of Congress

Congressman Grayson’s letter prompted the Washington Post to ask AG Holder these questions. Yesterday, the Washington Post reported on the answers:

[Attorney General] Holder indicated that the Justice Department is not planning to prosecute former Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who received documents from Snowden and has written a series of articles based on the leaked material. Greenwald, an American citizen who lives in Brazil, has said he is reluctant to come to the United States because he fears detention and possible prosecution.

“Unless information that has not come to my attention is presented to me, what I have indicated in my testimony before Congress is that any journalist who’s engaged in true journalistic activities is not going to be prosecuted by this Justice Department,” Holder said.

“I certainly don’t agree with what Greenwald has done,” Holder said. “In some ways, he blurs the line between advocate and journalist. But on the basis of what I know now, I’m not sure there is a basis for prosecution of Greenwald.”

So there you have it – thanks in part to Congressman Grayson’s inquiry, we know what is on AG Eric Holder’s mind if journalist Glenn Greenwald comes to the United States to inform Congress about domestic spying. Congressman Grayson’s view on this is simple: investigative journalism is not a crime.

The postscript for this episode is Greenwald’s response to Holder’s statement, also from the Washington Post report:

Greenwald said he welcomed the statement but remains cautious. “That this question is even on people’s minds is a rather grim reflection of the Obama administration’s record on press freedoms,” he said in an e-mail. “It is a positive step that the Attorney General expressly recognizes that journalism is not and should not be a crime in the United States, but given this administration’s poor record on press freedoms, I’ll consult with my counsel on whether one can or should rely on such caveat-riddled oral assertions about the government’s intentions.”

One way or another, Congressman Grayson will continue to seek Greenwald’s testimony regarding the scope of domestic spying, so that Congress and the American People can hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Advertisements

Whistleblowing for safety – what would you do?

By Marianne Lincoln
Story out recently: OSHA Weaknesses Force Workers to Choose: Report Safety Violations, or Keep Their Jobs?
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/15809/osha_weaknesses_force_workers_to_choose_report_safety_violations_or_keep_th/
The mission of the “pro-business” lobby is to save companies money by not having to “fix” the details that make workers safer. We need legislators and Congress people who will take heed to make this work. Unfortunately in this Tea party world of stripping the government of its money and powers, it won’t happen.
When I was a kid in the 1960’s, there was a growing tendency to use the taunt… “tattletale.” Even then, I was concerned that this would be a problem with my generation. Exacerbated by the ‘60’s drug generation, where there is a definite code of silence, it is now too pervasive that people should shut up and put up with it. This is not good because it leads to great opportunities to abuse people.
Where are truth, integrity and dignity? It would seem most businesses would rather run advertisements to persuade you rather than stand up and be counted by their fairness and integrity.
This is precisely why we need the whistleblowers and the protections in the law both Constitutionally and in other code.
Most people who know me understand that if I see a problem, I take up the issue. Very often, when pointed out, things get fixed. Occasionally, pointing out a problem will make your removal the “fix.” On these occasions the world needs the brave souls called investigative reporters. Many newspapers these days are so beholden to their advertisers, they won’t step out a cover the story in depth either. The large newspaper syndicates often put a grid lock on getting to the core of the problem, or they ignore the elephant in the room.
On rare occasions the brave soul emerges and does the right thing in spite of the risk because he/she believes in the greater good. They take a lot of heat, risk and bad press. Some have been forced to leave their communities. Some are even forced to leave their country. The measure of their worth is the value of the information they brought to light.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison for standing up for what he thought was right. When he finally was release, what he started had finally taken place and he has humbly glowed in that light.
The ultimate test of a soul is being in one of these situations. What would you do?

Medical Marijuana raid in a state where the PEOPLE voted it legal

The tug of war between Federal Agents and the medical marijuana industry happened again Thursday, July 25. In Washington State, the people voted last November to make marijuana legal. The Washington Governor met with Federal officials to try to work out some compromise. The medicinal industry in the state has been legal and operating for several years. In spite of all the rules they try to follow, the industry can’t seem to get along with Federal Agents.
Frankly, the Federal Agents are on the losing side of the public relations battle. No matter what they may say in their statements read on the TV news, people are not believing there was good reason for this. Through Facebook and other social medial, we learn, once again, the other side of the story. We should expect better of our Federal Government, but they appear to most of us to be abusing their power and stirring fear for fear’s sake.
You should know, this commentary is coming from someone 1) with a medicinal marijuana patient in the family. 2) who can’t stand being around the stuff. To me, it stinks, bad. But maybe if I had a bout with cancer, I’d change my mind too. I want that option for people. I voted yes in November, because I don’t want to get in hot water if I take that family member on a trip and happen to get pulled over with him and his stash in the car.
The Fed, as my friend says, need to “eat a red.” All their drug laws appear to be doing is helping the cartels. They are certainly acting similarly, throwing their weight around, frightening and threatening people. Yes, some of you butthead might lose your jobs if the war against drugs quiets down. Guess what? We’re tired of paying your wages for a war you are not winning. I certainly would rather cut the Federal budget of your wages than take the 20% cut I got in my unemployment or the 20% cut the staff at Madigan just took.
Come on fellas, aren’t there truly dangerous people you can go after? Maybe some evil banksters? Are you afraid the nice people at these medicinal marijuana shops are just redressed crude old drug dealers? Nah. Get a life Feds. Go chase someone in a state where they are still criminals.

Here’s a statement from Facebook posted by a friend of one store raided in the Olympia area:

Good Thursday Morning, Today we are open from 11am to 7pm. DEEP BREATH!!!

“The purpose of your life is to serve in a way that brings great joy to yourself and others. Don’t worry about finding your purpose. Instead, focus upon serving a purpose, and then your purpose will serve you.”
Medical Cannabis and helping patients is our purpose.
Someone said to us last night this very saying, ” You are safe, and this situation is under the perfect control of Divine providence and universal order. Only infuse loving thoughts and emotions into the situation to ensure that the highest possible outcome flows effortlessly to and through you.”
In lieu of recent events that took place yesterday, it has taken a lot out of us, but yet we have gain a lot as well.
We have been comforted by many and supported by people we have never met. We can assure you we will fight for your rights as patients, and we will continue to provide you with a safe access point were you can obtain your meds. We are going to fight this fight. We are not sure why they came to us. But, I can assure you NO PATIENT FILES OR INFORMATION WAS CONFINSCATED (sic) OR SEIZED.
As for Bayside’s future, we remain OPEN, this is only the battle lost not the war won. We have a long road ahead of us and we would love and really appreciate your support through all of this. Bayside is and has been in complete compliance with all STATE LAWS and City regulations!
We do have a few strains of dry meds on our shelves. We have no concentrates, or edibles at this time. We have had a few clones donated as well.
We are here and can’t wait to see you. We are here and we are eager to help you.
We are still starting our School Supply Drive August 1, 2013- we are collecting school supplies for children in the Thurston county school districts. We are asking for your help in donating so no child has to show up for the first day of school with out the proper tools to succeed. Every child is capable of success, No Exceptions!
Also, we will be collecting new or gently used clothing items for school age children as well. You don’t have to be a patient to donate just come on in and say hey!
We are so happy to be here today and the fact that our patients have our backs and feel the same as we do is wonderful! THANK YOU TO ALLOF YOU.

Sincerely,
Bayside Collective

Here’s a story on the raid: http://www.thedailychronic.net/2013/24837/dea-agent-to-raided-wa-dispensary-owner-things-are-going-to-be-hell-for-you/2/

The editorial grump: Does anyone hire people over 50 anymore?

I know the law says employers cannot discriminate against people due to their age. However, in my personal experience over and over in the 6 years since I turned 50, what I have seen would virulently contradict this. I love the fact that I look at least 10 years younger than I actually am. I work hard to keep too much job history off my resume and try not to talk about anything I did, ‘back in the old days.‘

But… Sooner or later the employer signs you up for medical insurance or files IRS paperwork with your birth date, then they know. This has happened to me on more than 5 occasions. I have been laid off with no complaint of my performance, no excuse other than, “It wasn’t a good fit.” Nothing to take with me about how I could do better the next time. There wasn’t something I could improve because, in my opinion, the problem is I cannot change my age.

Once again, they never said that. They can’t without being sued, so they don’t. In one case, I started asking questions and went to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). I explained how my daughter visited me and had commented how young everyone was in the office. Everyone seemed to be under 30. EEOC started an investigation. They learned it was true and the hiring practices were allowing this. The company was in trouble and their lawyer realized it. They immediate put out a hiring opportunity for someone in a similar role to the one I had. They hired someone who was 2 years older than me to keep from being sued by the government. I only wish I could have kept tabs to see if that person lasted more than the 6 month statute of limitations for the investigation. Somehow I doubt it.

Wash, rinse, repeat says the shampoo bottle and so it is with jobs. This is an “at will” state, so employers do not have to give  you a reason you are being dismissed. They open the door and here comes the boot. You have learned only that no matter how hard you try, they don’t give a damn.

This is not the world of my parents. My father was kept on at the same company for 38 years. My past five years there have been 17 days, 13 days, 19 days and one was only 7 days. It is getting difficult to trust employers. Some don’t even get to the point they invite you for an interview. If you have a lot of experience, no dice. I have a group in intensive job search techniques at Worksource, no surprise we’re all over 50.

So what will all of you in the next generation do with your parents who have no money to retire on because we keep having to dip into our savings to live on in our 50’s? Are you going to let us live with you? Or will you just pass laws to euthanize us? With the direction Congress is going to make sure people who can’t make ends meet don’t have food stamps, unemployment or other social safety net money, I sure wouldn’t be surprised if they proposed laws to euthanize old folks. I am expecting next they’ll say let grandma eat dog food, it’s good for her. Well, this feisty not-that-old lady is tired of those rich people who make up all the fake reasons not to employ good, experienced people because they want to be cheap.

To all of them, and the others that laid me off, I’m sure the bird flying in my yard isn’t in the Audubon book. I hope your hump day camel leaves you with fleas. Remember, I’ll probably die first and I hope to have the chance to come back to haunt you.

Celebrate, have fun, be safe, stay educated and vigilant – Happy 4th!

EDITORIAL
Today as Americans we celebrate our freedom and our separation from a former form of government by monarchy.
We have a government, designed by those who came to Philadelphia in the late 1700’s and tried to give individuals the right to make decision for themselves and in their best interest locally.
From this form of government sprang a Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But we cannot ever deny or forget the foundation of a good democracy is our educational system. Without citizens who know how their government works, watching how their elected officials are conducting the business of the day, we cannot have an effective system. We must be vigilant in order to enjoy the fruits of our labors or they will slowly slip away. Within the system are those who would devise methods to exert their will without proper oversight.
Our government was further honed by thousands of elected individuals and millions of people who spoke out for various rights and privileges for those who were not best served by the original instrument of our democracy. The took risks, sometimes being threatened, jailed and injured to make their point to those making decisions.
So here’s to those who are educated, those who are vigilant, those who are activists and those who take the ultimate risks to assure there is visibility in the system so the people who are voting can make the best choices.
Happy Independence Day and be careful with those exploding devices. Have fun and be safe.

Fairness for some, it’s a start

I remember sitting in a school board study session. The superintendent received a phone call during the meeting. It was security. A Graham Kapowsin student had committed suicide. Bullying was immediately suspected. Later as more details came out, it was alleged the student also was gay.
I had run for legislative office several times and had always hedged on the issues related to civil rights for LGBT people. My district was conservative, the issue wouldn’t pass a litmus test here. I changed that day. At the next board meeting, I spoke out in support of LGBT students and faculty and proposed the district get educational packets from an organization called GLSEN, Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network. Their materials help educators create an environment where student of all sexual identities can feel comfortable and respected. And to make a point, I said point blank, I don’t want to have any more dead teenagers.
At that time, I started really listening to the things my LGBT friends were telling me about the discriminations built into the law. The right of visitation with a critically ill partner, the right to adopt, the right to inherit without taxation, the right to apply for citizenship when married to a US citizen, but most of all, the right to be in a loving monogamous relationship without bitter repercussions.
I had been working in King County for over 5 years. Several of my co-workers were gay. They were incredibly amazing and talented people. One was Canadian and had married his partner in Canada. They adopted two disabled children to raise. Another was almost as flamboyant as he could be, but he was sure fun to be around. He always put everyone in a better mood.
Thinking back to my youth, I remember kids that didn’t quite fit in. Michael recently had the opportunity to marry in a church. He was always very committed to his Christian Faith; he was bullied about it as a kid. I believe he was heartbroken or at least very conflicted when he grew up and realized he was gay. He had always wanted to be a pastor and his realization dashed his dream. He had a long term committed relationship with his partner. The passage of Referendum 74 brought his dreams back. It was a delightful wedding to witness.
Then there was Richard and Tom. We were in school plays together. I don’t think either lived to be 30. They contracted HIV and died of AIDS. Our drama group reassembled and held a party to say goodbye to Richard. Some were afraid to give him a hug. I’m glad I hugged him; he was always so sweet.
So of course, I am happy today that the Supreme Court has given Federal recognition to the LGBT couples who have married in states that recognize their union. Banking, social security benefits, military survivor benefits, there are so many special recognitions for married couples they will now enjoy. For the other states, it is highly understandable that for many it will take a bit more time. It is painfully sad that you can search the Internet and see so many stories on “gay boy tied up and beaten.” I cannot fathom what it is inside people to make them think this is okay. Then again, it wasn’t okay because of skin color or religion either. Can we grow out of our barbarism? I think we can, at least through generations raised with better awareness and understanding.
I think the Supreme Court for recognizing the states that are stepping up. I urge the folks who are delighted about this, not to reverse discriminate against those on the court who were raised under unprogressive ideals. They exist all around America and the world. We have to show them we have a better way, even toward them. In the end, what we are really talking about is kindness to others, even those with whom we disagree. It isn’t always easy, but it is always best.
This weekend there will be especially happy Pride parades, …make us proud.