"Those who sacrifice liberty for
security deserve neither."
-- Benjamin Franklin
1. Snowden updates
the consent of the governed
system of warrants
5. Keith Alexander's "testimony"
6. The Making of a Global Security State
excuses and a foresight
It still is the case that sleeping remains quite
difficult for me. This also makes my life rather difficult, at the
Anyway. Today there is again more that touches on Snowden's
revelations, and indeed nothing else, though "touches on" is indeed
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
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
Quite so. Furthermore:
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.
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.
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
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:
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
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:
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
Note "legally bound":
Not by any democratic law. Not only that:
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:
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
declarations of the top managements of the leading internet companies a
bit more understandable. Note again that all this
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
Well... if this is legal, then why is this all in such an extremely
authoritarian ways hidden from the public? Because it is not
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.
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
Then there is NSA chief Keith Alexander, who "testified" to the effect
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
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:
around 1,000 system administrators, like Edward Snowden, who have
access to the same information as him. The majority of them are
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
by a real court.
But that Fourth Amendment is not working any
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.
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
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.
Some excuses and a foresight
Finally. I am a little
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
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,
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,
rulers of today and possibly of tomorrow are too greedy for power, too
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
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
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.
ME/CFS (that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: