Today’s stories, and my classification of them as either good or bad news, will test the limits of News Sandwich readers’ agreement with my views. Without further ado…
Good News: This story from the Washington Post, in which we learn about the testimony of The Guardian UK editor, Alan Rusbridger, before the Commons Home Affairs Committee, including his revelation of the fact that The Guardian has published only 1% of the documents leaked to them by Edward Snowden.
Unlike many nonleftists, I think, based on everything I know about Edward Snowden’s actions, what he did was right. Our government has been engaging in bulk collection of metadata (as well as at least some data) without any probable cause or particularized suspicion. It’s been doing so because of the so-called “third-party doctrine,” which allows, in effect, the government to create a “haystack” of metadata without warrant, and without running afoul of the Fourth Amendment. I have argued on my show that I think this is wrong and that the third-party doctrine needs to be overturned or superseded by statute. (I also have an article, forthcoming, on this topic in The St. John’s Law Review.)
I believe what Snowden has done has helped to call attention to the problem, and that it was justified because, as Ambassador John Bolton said when I interviewed him on the Tammy Bruce show, “all three branches of government” have signed off on what the NSA has been doing. In other words, Snowden had no realistic alternative except to go to the public in hopes of educating us about our government’s wrongdoing. So far as I know, neither he nor The Guardian have acted recklessly in a way that would put our or Britain’s military or intelligence personnel at risk. They have revealed only what is necessary to draw attention to government wrongdoing. (For more on the defense of Snowden’s actions, listen to Leonard Peikoff on Snowden, as well as the follow-up podcast I recorded with him about the NSA and the third-party doctrine.)
So, from my point of view, it’s good to hear that there is a lot more information available, thanks to Snowden, which the press can use to help educate the public and hold government accountable. It was also good to hear that The Guardian is being responsible, not reckless, with the information entrusted to it by Snowden. I was also glad to hear that they destroyed their hard drives, after sending copies of the leaked documents overseas, rather than allowing them to be confiscated by the government. Finally, two bits of great news in the story: first, that the principle of freedom of speech and the press can at least be invoked to defend oneself against an overbearing government, even today; second, that United States media organizations (including the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press) are backing up The Guardian: They signed a joint letter to the parliamentary panel stating, in part, that “to the rest of the world, it appears that press freedom itself is under attack in Britain.”
It’s too bad that freedom of commerce isn’t respected at least as much as freedom of the press…
Bad News (HT to reader Michael Shapiro, who sent me this story): This story from tuaw.com, in which we learn about the abusive behavior already being exhibited by Apple’s court-appointed antitrust monitor, Michael Bromwich. I think antitrust laws are immoral, so I think it’s bad enough that Apple was ever sued for violating them. What’s worse (but not surprising, unfortunately), is the way Apple is being treated by Bromwich. Apparently Bromwich, who lacks adequate antitrust experience, has hired other experienced attorneys to “assist” him, and so is charging Apple a whopping $1,100 an hour so that he and they can “earn a profit” from their efforts in helping to keep a government gun steadily pointing in Apple’s direction. In addition, Apple says that Bromwich has requested meetings with “Apple executives and board members that have nothing to do with Apple’s e-book antitrust compliance. For example, Bromwich, for whatever reason, wanted to sit down and interview Apple designer Jony Ive and Apple board member Al Gore.” Hey, I’d love to be paid hundreds an hour to sit down and meet with Jony Ive! (You would, in fact, have to pay me hundreds an hour to sit down for a meeting with Al Gore. Ewww.)
As Tuaw reports, Bromwich, in his response, essentially reminded Apple that he doesn’t work for them, that he is, in fact, a government-appointed thug wielding power over them. He also stated, ominously, “It is very early in a long-term relationship.”
If only Apple could have been appointed a monitor like the “Wet Nurse” from Atlas Shrugged!
Good News (HT to cartoonist Bosch Fawstin, who sent me this story:
Perhaps the best news I’ve read today is that two “blue” states, Massachusetts and New York, are contemplating at least delaying their implementation of the Common Core educational standards. Breitbart reports that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is now suggesting that implementation might be delayed there, apparently caving into pressure put on him from concerned parents and others challenging the imposition of these nationwide standards. Massachusetts seems to be delaying implementation for more practical reasons, like the impracticality of meeting the 2014-15 standardized testing timeline or, more importantly, a desire to not screw up a good thing: their students have been, on average, outperforming the rest of the country on math for some time now. According to the article, Massachusetts and New York are now joining fifteen other states who are reconsidering their involvement with the Common Core. Let’s hope this is only the beginning of Americans’ rejection of our Federal Government’s latest power grab, the power grab with the potential to have the most destructive long-term consequences. (For more on Common Core and why I think it’s wrong, listen to “Common Core: Uncommon Danger,” my show in which I discuss the Common Core with professor C. Bradley Thompson.)