ugust 10, 2013
Crisis: Obama "reforms"; NSA "reforms"; Wyden doubts; 9/11 commission doubts
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
    "All governments lie and nothing
    they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

1. Obama touts NSA surveillance reforms to quell growing
over programs
2.  NSA to Can 90% of Admins to 'Purge Potential

3.  Wyden: Obama's NSA Proposals Are Nice, But They Don't
      Go Far Enough

4.  9/11 Commission Chairs: NSA Spying Has Gone Way Too
About ME/CFS


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.

1. Obama touts NSA surveillance reforms to quell growing unease
            over programs

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 Ackerman:
This starts as follows:

Barack Obama 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 by whistleblower 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.

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:
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 on privacy".

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 it secret.

2. NSA to Can 90% of Admins to 'Purge Potential Whistleblowers'
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:
Critics charge 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.

"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.
Indeed - and besides: Who but a total fool trusts general Alexander?

Wyden: Obama's NSA Proposals Are Nice, But They Don't Go Far

Then there is senator Wyden, as reported on Mother Jones by AJ Vicens: He thought that:
After the 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 that:

"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."


9/11 Commission Chairs: NSA Spying Has 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):

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 administration officials.

When the 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.

Yes, indeed. They also say:

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 safeguarding lives.

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.

Quite so.
[1] 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 government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
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 quote from is quite pertinent.)

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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

       home - index - summaries - mail