"Those who sacrifice liberty for
security deserve neither."
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
touts NSA surveillance reforms to quell growing
NSA to Can 90% of Admins to 'Purge Potential
Obama's NSA Proposals Are Nice, But They Don't
Go Far Enough
9/11 Commission Chairs: NSA Spying Has Gone Way Too
I did sleep a bit better, but not enough to implement the plan to
translate what I wrote about terrorism in 2005, but here are some
pieces that relate to Snowden's revelations, this time as it may effect
the U.S. government - and please note that I write "may" because the
U.S. government these days tends to classify everything that might
trouble a good part of its populations: the public does not
know the truth, because that is classified, and often cannot even
discuss the truth, for that is classified as well, by secret courts.
touts NSA surveillance reforms to quell growing
To start with, here is some news about the Obama
government trying to contain the disquietudes that arose after
Snowden's revelations. It is by the Guardian's Paul Lewis and Spencer
This starts as follows:
Then again, you should not put
your hopes too high, nor believe that the reforms Obama is willing to
concede are concerned with inhibiting the NSA:
announced the first public review of US surveillance
programs since 9/11 on Friday, in what amounts to the president's first
concession that the mounting public concern in response to disclosures
Edward Snowden justifies reform.
After weeks in which the
Obama and senior intelligence officials have insisted that the privacy
of US citizens was sufficiently protected, the
president announced a series of measures aimed at containing the
controversy prompted by the Guardian's revelations.
But he made it
clear that the programs themselves would remain in place.
Indeed, what he also said was:
Announcing that a
panel of independent figures would "review our entire intelligence and
communications technologies", reporting before the end of the year,
Obama said: "We need new thinking for a new era."
My own assumption is that "new thinking for a new era" amounts to full yet secret spying on
everyone, but dressed up with a better propaganda packaging.
He also came with idiocies like this:
"It is not enough
for me as president to have confidence in these programs. The American
people need to have confidence in them as well," he said.
This is idiotic, firstly
because presidential confidence in a plan is no reason at all the plan
is any good; second, because "the American people" is too much of an
abstraction to attribute "confidence" to (for "the American people" covers the Tea Party, the GOP, the Democrats
and everybody else); and third because it doesn't matter either way:
What matters is that the plan pass the scrutiny of a majority of
reliable, honest, informed, legally knowledgeable persons who are in
possession of the full relevant information - but apart from the
question whether there are right now sufficiently many of such people,
the main problem is that Obama has classified nearly all information so
that nobody but himself and the NSA and its private contractors knows
what is really happening.
Indeed, it comes to this, according to the Guardian:
Nothing Obama announced
is likely to materially alter the NSA's ongoing mass collection of
phone data and surveillance of internet communications in the short
term. Neither did the president exhibit much appetite for significantly
altering the surveillance capabilities of the US intelligence
community, saying at one point the aim might be to "jigger slightly"
the balance between the intelligence and "the incremental encroachment
And to this:
Throughout his press
conference, Obama said there was no evidence that the intelligence
agencies had "abused" their powers, insisting he was instead addressing
a problem of public perceptions.
Meanwhile, he knows that
his government plus the private contractors of Booz Allen etc. are
implementing a grossly illegal plan that he wants to protect by keeping
2. NSA to Can 90% of Admins to 'Purge Potential
Next, there is the NSA that got spurred to some activity as
well, or so it seems. The piece is by Sarah Lazarre for Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
that an aggressive NSA purge of 90 percent of its system
administrators—in an apparent attempt to prevent the next Edward
Snowden from having access to secret information—is evidence that the
agency seeks to hide the truth about spying from the public and remove
the roll of human conscience from the agency, instead of curbing spying
in response to mass anger.
Indeed - and besides: Who but
a total fool trusts general Alexander?
"It would be nice if they
reduced the amount of information they are collecting on people by 90
percent," Dave Maass, spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, told Common Dreams.
3. Wyden: Obama's NSA Proposals Are Nice, But They Don't
Then there is
senator Wyden, as reported on Mother Jones by AJ Vicens:
He thought that:
president's remarks, he said that he was encouraged by Obama's
suggestions, several of which the Senator and others have been pushing
to get for years.
But he also thought
"Notably absent from
President Obama's speech was any mention of closing the backdoor
searches loophole that potentially allows for the warrantless searches
of Americans' phone calls and emails under section 702 of the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act," Wyden said, referring to the program
most recently disclosed by the Guardian. "I am also concerned
that the executive branch has not fully acknowledged the extent to
which violations of the FISC orders and the spirit of the law have
already had a significant impact on Americans' privacy."
4. 9/11 Commission Chairs: NSA Spying
Gone Way Too Far
Finally, here is Washington's Blog:
This quotes two
former chairmen of the 9/11 commission, Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton,
to the following effect (bolding suppressed):
Yes, indeed. They also say:
The NSA’s metadata
program was put into place with virtually no public debate, a worrisome
precedent made worse by erecting unnecessary barriers to public
understanding via denials and misleading statements from senior
Congress and the courts work in secret; when massive amounts of data
are collected from Americans and enterprises; when government’s power
of intrusion into the lives of ordinary citizens, augmented by the
awesome power of advanced technologies, is hugely expanded without
public debate or discussion over seven years, then our sense of
constitutional process and accountability is deeply offended.
Officials insist that the
right balance has been struck between security and privacy. But how
would we know, when all the decisions have been made in secret, with
almost no oversight?
Much of this surveillance
activity raises sharp questions: Is it necessary to collect and
preserve this vast amount of data rather than pursue targeted
individuals? Is the government using the least intrusive means to
protect us? What are the rules for using metadata collected ostensibly
for counterterrorism purposes in other contexts? Could more information
about the program’s reach have been made available earlier? These and
other vital questions must be debated in the open.
When the government is
exercising powers that may impinge on our rights, even when justified
as measures essential for national security, we must be alert.
Government, once granted authority, rarely relinquishes it and often
expands it. Even if its actions are well intentioned, we must consider
the precedent of expansive government power to be used 10, 20 or 50
years hence, when the justification may be less compelling than
The administration says
the program is tightly controlled, but unilateral executive branch
action and assurances are not sufficient; we need constitutional checks
and balances. The extremely low rate of denial of warrant requests and
the fact that in the hearings only the government’s side is presented
are troubling. The public would benefit from a better, more detailed
understanding of the judiciary process.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, that the governors do not
rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more proper
that law should govern than any one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I
from is quite pertinent.)
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: