33,000 New York City transit workers have gone on strike shutting down the country’s largest public transportation system. The strike was announced around 3 this morning by Transport Workers Union President Roger Toussaint.
Roger Toussaint: “New Yorkers, this is a fight over whether hard work will be rewarded with a decent retirement. This is a fight over the erosion or the eventual elimination of health benefit coverage for the working people of New York. This is a fight over dignity and respect on the job, a concept that is very alien to the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority).”
The city says the strike is illegal and is turning to the courts to order workers back to their jobs. Democracy Now co-host Juan Gonzalez has been covering the story through the night:
In Washington, newly released documents show counterterrorism agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been monitoring domestic activist groups including Greenpeace, Catholic Worker, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and PETA, the People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The documents indicate the F.B.I. monitored protests organized by the groups and used confidential informants inside the organizations to gain intelligence. In one case, government records show the FBI launched a terrorism investigation of PETA in Norfolk, Virginia.
According to the Washington Post, the documents offer no proof of PETA’s involvement in illegal activity. But more than 100 pages of heavily censored FBI files show the agency used secret informants and tracked the group’s events for years. The FBI also monitored political activities on college campuses. One FBI file included a contact list for students and peace activists who attended a 2002 conference at Stanford University aimed at ending sanctions then in place in Iraq.
This is the third major recent revelation about domestic spying. Last week NBC News revealed the Pentagon has been monitoring peaceful anti-war protesters and the New York Times exposed how President Bush ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without court-approved warrants. Ann Beeson, of the American Civil Liberties Union said “It’s clear that this administration has engaged every possible agency, from the Pentagon to N.S.A. to the F.B.I., to engage in spying on Americans.”
On Monday President Bush held a news conference and defended the National Security Agency spying program but criticized sources inside the government for speaking with the press.
President Bush: “There’s a process that goes on inside the Justice Department about leaks and I presume that process is moving forward. My personal opinion is it was a shameful act, for someone to disclose this very important program in time of war. The fact that we’re discussing this program is helping the enemy.”
President Bush went to great lengths to block the publication of the story. The New York Times had uncovered the secret program a year ago but withheld publication at the request of the White House. Newsweek is now reporting Bush then personally summoned the paper’s publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office two weeks ago in an attempt to talk them out of running the story.