I almost turned back at the machine gun nest; the weapon was (or seemed to be) pointed directly at me.
Whistling past the graveyard, I forced myself to walk into the Essex Wire Co,. plant outside Jackson, MI.
As the newest editorial employee of the Detroit Free Press, I had been deemed likeliest to succeed at penetrating the security around the Essex plant to apply for a job inside as a scab worker. The company, a major supplier to the auto industry, had risked taking a strike in union-powerful Michigan; violence ensued and Gov. George Romney called out the National Guard. Hence the machine-gun nest.
I got the job, despite my fumbling with the manual dexterity test. I used my real identity but a made-up job history. My real job inside the plant was to determine if Essex had used an infamous professional strike-breaking firm then based in Mississippi to continue operating when the union workers walked out. This would have been a violation of state labor law at the time.
On my first day at work, I tried to balance learning the intricacies of machines that could sever limbs with learning something about my co-workers without arousing suspicions about my motives.
After work, the moment my borrowed, clunker car left the employee parking lot, it was tailed by a pick-up truck with a bed full of armed union pickets. I was losing the race to the Interstate when a state police car came out of hiding and placed itself between me and my pursuers.
The next day, Gov. Romney announced that his staff had brokered an end to the strike. My spy mission was over. But I was reminded of my brief career as an infiltrator when Peter Gleick, chairman of a scientific society ethics committee, acknowledged using deception to obtain and make public the documents proving the climate science fraud of the infamous right-wing Heartland Institute. Gleick posed as a member of the institute's board.
He resigned as chairman of the American Geophysical Union's ethics committee after disclosing how he obtained the Heartland documents.
I have been a longtime follower and critic of Heartland and its science whores, like the Infamous Idsos. And so I applauded the release of the purloined documents, which were much more damning of the denier side than the trove of stolen e-mails from British climate scientists that came to be known as "Climategate."
"I deeply regret my actions in this case," Gleick said when he resigned from the ethics panel. If I had found proof of violations of the state labor laws in that Essex plant, and written about them in the Free Press, I'd have had no such ethical qualms. I know all the "ends justify the means" arguments pro and con, as did, say, the Chicago Tribune editors and reporters who bought a Loop tavern to "sting" extortion plots by a ring of corrupt cops.
Journalists and scientists, in my opinion, have obligations to higher truths than those the ethicists purport to be defending in their criticisms of Gleick, who said he was motivated "by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists." Fossil fuel profiteers like the Koch Brothers fund outfits like Heartland to protect and increase their obscene wealth, at the expense of the environment that sustains life on this planet.
Rick Santorum's whacky "Earth should serve man, not the other way around" theology to the contrary notwithstanding, climate change is one of the most important issues confronting mankind at this moment. The very survival of the planet and its life forms is at stake.
I come to praise Peter Gleick, not to bury him.