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Nederlog


 
June 19, 2013
Crisis: Snowden, consent, warrants, Hong Kong, Alexander, Making, excuses


   "Those who sacrifice liberty for  
     security deserve neither."
     -- Benjamin Franklin







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Sections

Introduction

1.  Snowden updates
2.  From the consent of the governed
3.  The system of warrants
4.  Why Hong Kong?
5.  Keith Alexander's "testimony"
6.  The Making of a Global Security State
7.  Some excuses and a foresight

About ME/CFS

Introduction:

It still is the case that sleeping remains quite difficult for me. This also makes my life rather difficult, at the moment.

Anyway. Today there is again more that touches on Snowden's revelations, and indeed nothing else, though "touches on" is indeed intentionally vague.

Again I should say I uploaded this very early in the day - Dutch time, on the 19th of June - because I want to have my day free for doing some other things, if I can.

1. Snowden update

There are several possible Snowden updates, but I restrict myself to one, because it is in the Guardian, and rather similar to what I did yesterday. It is by Haroon Siddique and is called
One reason to report it is that it is rather similar, though stated in terms of explicit points one learned; another that it does make sense to put it in temporal order, though I am not quite sure the linked article is.

2. From the consent of the governed

Next, there is a brief but good article by A. Barton Hinkle called
This starts with Ai Weiwei, but soon moves to the following point:

The bigger story concerns the increasingly asymmetric relationship between citizens and the state. The formerly secret program of domestic spying neatly illuminates one aspect of that asymmetry: The government knows, or can know, an awful lot about you. But you are not supposed to know even that it knows, let alone what it knows.

More of what the government does is classified than ever before. If you do not know what the government is doing then, obviously, you have no say over its activities. This flies in the face of the Declaration of Independence, which states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” How can you consent to something you know nothing of?

The principle animating democratic and republican government is accountability to the governed. Yet more and more government action lies beyond the citizens’ reach.
Quite so. Furthermore:

The “vast majority of laws,” he [professor Jonathan Turly - MM] continues, “are not passed by Congress but issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats.” In 2007, he writes, “Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies” – there are now 69 of them – “finalized 2,926 rules.”

The administrative state is taking over not only the legislative function, but also the judicial: Turley reports that “a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court.”
This is pretty horrible, for the "administrative state" is quite irresposible, unaccountable, uncontrollable, and also is not elected, so you can't get rid of them. Again, this means no democratic government, but an odd and new sort of authoritarian state, that runs under its own rules, completely without control from outside it.

More of this in the next item:

3. The system of warrants

Next, about another - to my mind - quite insane bit of regulation and administration. This is from a Daily Beast piece, that goes a little bit back in time:
First, there is this:
Thirteen days after the Guardian published a top-secret court order from the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court disclosing the National Security Agency's collection of all phone records from Verizon's business customers over a three-month period, the U.S. intelligence community has yet to determine how the warrant, one of the most highly classified documents inside the U.S. government, was leaked.
Note that it is also not known whether Snowden did this. You may think that this is not a very big deal, and that the fact that this means all these phone records were leaked is much more serious, but this is not the present US government's concern, which is this quite crazy bit:
Those who receive the warrant - the first of its kind to be publicly disclosed - are not allowed "to disclose to any other person" except to carry out its terms or receive legal advice about it, and any person seeing it for those reasons is also legally bound not to disclose the order.
Note "legally bound": Not by any democratic law. Not only that:
The officials say phone companies like Verizon are not allowed to store a digital copy of the warrant, and that the documents are not accessible on most NSA internal classified computer networks or on the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, the top-secret internet used by the U.S. intelligence community.
And not only that:
Even lawmakers and staff lawyers on the House and Senate intelligence committees can only view the warrants in the presence of Justice Department attorneys, and are prohibited from taking notes on the documents.
That is: The orders are so extremely secret - all of which is totally OK with president Obama, who sees "no problem" with it, and believes and insists that one should "trust" him, rather than the Constitution or its Amendments - that no one else is allowed to see them, to report them, or even to take notes on what these "warrants" say!!

And that is just one of possibly many such warrants - which makes the declarations of the top managements of the leading internet companies a bit more understandable. Note again that all this without any justification as well, for according to president Obama none of this is problematic, and all of this is quite legal (or at least quite "legal", in his opinion) and one should "trust" him, and indeed the warrants are so authoritarian that no one can do anything about them without very grave personal risks.

Well... if this is legal, then why is this all in such an extremely authoritarian ways hidden from the public? Because it is not legal, but the US government believes they can impose it, for the population is in majority too stupid to see what's being done to them, and by the time they finally learn, they will be totally helpless.

4. Why Hong Kong?

I shift the scene towards part of Edward Snowden's motives to go to Hong Kong rather than another place. There is this piece on Naked Capitalism of three days ago, by someone who lives in Hong Kong:
This all sounds quite informed and plausible, though here I have to take much on faith. Suppose so. It still doesn't mean Snowden is safe there, but it seems as if he has some chance of staying there a good while, provided he is not kidnapped or killed.

5.  Keith Alexander's "testimony"

Then there is NSA chief Keith Alexander, who "testified" to the effect that the US has absolutely nothing serious to worry about (except of course for the evil Snowden). Trust him! I write "testified" etc. because I do not think he spoke the truth, but indeed he is a lot handier lying to Congress than is James Clapper.

He claimed rather a lot, and here is a good piece by Joan McCarter, that I found on Alternet:

I pick out three points, which are somewhat accidental:
There are around 1,000 system administrators, like Edward Snowden, who have access to the same information as him. The majority of them are contractors.
The fact that they are contractors means that they do not belong to the government, which itself is a serious thing, supposing one grants some mails have to be investigated - which I do agree to, provided this happens under the Fourth Amendment, i.e. with probable and specific cause and overseen by a real court.

But that Fourth Amendment is not working any more:
Confirmed: NSA Analyst doesn't need a separate court order to query database. Analysts can decide what is "reasonably suspicious."
This continues the previous point: Non-governmental private contractors who can investigate pretty well anything about anyone.
Confirmed, no court review of individual queries. Rest of the checks are inside the DOJ — this is not oversight!
Again more of the same: There are no courts involved, anymore.

The reason to pick these accidental points is that I do not trust anything Alexander said, while those who do, have no evidence whatsoever to justify this blind faith.

6.  The Making of a Global Security State

Finally, a link to a long piece by Tom Engelhardt, that I found at Truth Dig:
This is not only long, it is also good and reflexive, and poses the right kind of questions. (I link to its appearance on Truth Dig, where I found it, but it is on the site of the writer, originally.)

I recommend that you read this. I don't quote from it today, because that would be too much work.

7.  Some excuses and a foresight

Finally. I am a little bit sorry to restrict myself to matters related to Snowden's revelations, but then I do insist these are very important, which again is my reason to publish so much about them, even though my health is not good at all.

To finish today, one more quite general question, for which I only have a sketchy and tentative answer:

Will it last - this spying, these draconian measures, and one's implied future of  nearly total subservience to The State - as in Orwell's "Nineteeeneightyfour", or Zamyatin's "We", except that it may be worse, because more is known about one?

I don't know.

It may be stopped in the coming years,
in part thanks to Snowden and Greenwald, and then with help of sufficiently many millions of active supporters. I still think this is less probable, but it might be stopped: There is at least a chance.

If it is not stopped, it may be realized, for a while at least, somehow, and probably will be horrible, for it will be a very authoritarian state, where you either belong to the government, or you are mostly and effectively a sort of slave to those who belong to the government or are high up in corporations.

Then again, all may go to pieces, and eventually probably will, for the rulers of today and possibly of tomorrow are too greedy for power, too prone to abuses, and are certainly not possessed of good ideas or plans.

In any case, it will very probably last considerably longer than I will live, and the USA of the Constitution will be dead in either case, whatever the propaganda about its continuance, since in fact it already seems to be mostly dead, even if few can really see this at the moment. (See Gore Vidal: here, here and here. And I also note you may, of course, disagree - but at least very few were better informed than he was.)

Then again, as usual: I have no certainties, and I hope to be mistaken in my pessimistic guesses - for which see December 25, 2012 and January 16, 2013, for two reasonable statements.

As it is, I am glad I have no children, and am 63, and have lived most of my life in a rich and free country.
---------------------------------
P.S. 19 Jun 2013: Added a few small corrections and three links to Vidal.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)


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