11, 2013
Crisis: violations, coup, timeline, cowboy Alexander, analysis, interview
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
    "All governments lie and nothing
    they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

Prev- crisis -Next

1. NSA violations led judge to consider viability of surveillance program
2. The silent military coup that took over Washington
How We Got From 9/11 to Massive NSA Spying on Americans: A Timeline
4. The Cowboy of the NSA
Profile Of NSA Boss General Keith Alexander Reveals: He Wants All The Data, And He Doesn't Care About The Law
6. Rania Masri and Chris Hedges On Obama's Syria Address 
About ME/CFS


Today it is 9/11/13, twelf years after 9/11/01. I only say it here, because I will hardly pay attention to it in the rest that follows. One reason is that it was enormously abused - but see item 3.

Also, I have left out a summary.

1. NSA violations led judge to consider viability of surveillance program 

To start with, an article by Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian, that shows more was going on that was illegal or improper than the U.S. government persons admitted:

This starts as follows:

A judge on the secret surveillance court was so disturbed by the National Security Agency's repeated violations of privacy restrictions that he questioned the viability of its bulk collection of Americans' phone records, according to newly declassified surveillance documents.

Judge Reggie Walton, now the presiding judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court, imposed a significant and previously undisclosed restriction on the NSA's ability to access its bulk databases of phone records after finding that the agency repeatedly violated privacy protections.

Later on:

In fact, Walton, who lamented the court's inability to independently assess the NSA's claims of compliance, appears in 2009 to have considered ending the bulk phone records collection entirely.

"To approve such a program, the court must have every confidence that the government is doing its utmost to ensure that those responsible for implementation fully comply with the court's orders," Walton wrote. "The court no longer has such confidence."


The program continues. The NSA's deputy director, John C Inglis, testified in July that the NSA could not identify a single case where the bulk phone records collection unambiguously led to the prevention of a terrorist attack.

And it ends thus:

Darrell Issa, the California Republican who chairs the powerful House committee on oversight and government reform, said that he backed legislation to "permanently cease" the bulk phone records collection.

"Government actions that violate the constitution cannot be tolerated and Congress must act to ensure the NSA and the intelligence community permanently cease such acts and hold the appropriate individuals accountable," Issa wrote to House majority leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday.

Quite so - but I have so see this done, and done effectively, and without classified documents, to be able to believe it.

2. The silent military coup that took over Washington 

Next, an article by John Pilger, also in the Guardian:
Here is a part from its beginning:
With al-Qaida now among its allies, and US-armed coupmasters secure in Cairo, the US intends to crush the last independent states in the Middle East: Syria first, then Iran. "This operation [in Syria]," said the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas in June, "goes way back. It was prepared, pre-conceived and planned."
As I have argued before. And here a part from its end:
Under the "weak" Obama, militarism has risen perhaps as never before. With not a single tank on the White House lawn, a military coup has taken place in Washington. In 2008, while his liberal devotees dried their eyes, Obama accepted the entire Pentagon of his predecessor, George Bush: its wars and war crimes. As the constitution is replaced by an emerging police state, those who destroyed Iraq with shock and awe, piled up the rubble in Afghanistan and reduced Libya to a Hobbesian nightmare, are ascendant across the US administration. Behind their beribboned facade, more former US soldiers are killing themselves than are dying on battlefields. Last year 6,500 veterans took their own lives. Put out more flags.
As to the "coup" of the title, see also my pieces on Gore Vidal of last year, who was in a position to know, and who thought the whole Bush government was a coup d'état, that was engineered by the Supreme Court + Fox News:
In any case, in the last paragraph John Pilger quotes an authority:
"Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity."
That authority is the allied judges who held court at Nuremberg.

3. How We Got From 9/11 to Massive NSA Spying on Americans: A Timeline

Next, a piece by three journalists - Vicens, Gilson and Park - on Mother Jones, that does give an interesting timeline:

Note this is apart from 9/11 only about the NSA. I onky cite one bit from it,  from 2008, because to me it all sounds grossly illegal:

2008 July: Bush signs the FISA Amendments Act, which retroactively codifies the warrantless wiretapping program; compels telecoms and internet firms to give the government access to private communications if one party is "reasonably believed" to be outside the US. It also gives telecoms retroactive immunity for handing over customers' private data without a warrant.

4. The Cowboy of the NSA

Next, a quite interesting article on general Keith Alexander by Shane Harris, who writes for Foreign Policy:

Indeed, Alexander does get that character, and it is given to him by persons who know him:
"Alexander tended to be a bit of a cowboy: 'Let's not worry about the law. Let's just figure out how to get the job done,'" says a former intelligence official who has worked with both men. "That caused General Hayden some heartburn."
There is rather a lot there, which I leave to you, also because the next item is about the article:

Profile Of NSA Boss General Keith Alexander Reveals: He Wants All The Data, And He Doesn't Care About The Law
The following article by Mike Masnick is about the last article, and is helpful, because it makes points and supports them by excerpts:

Here are the points it makes, without the excerpts, which you can find yourself in the above or the previous article:

  • His predecessor, General Michael Hayden, thought Alexander is a loose cannon who doesn't understand or care about the law.
  • General Alexander apparently has no problem playing word games to justify what he wants.
  • General Alexander is obsessed with collecting every bit of data possible, with little concern for the legal issues associated with such a desire.
  • General Alexander gets so overwhelmed by big data that he starts finding needles in those haystacks where none really exist.
  • General Alexander's fascination with big data was in part driven by a "mad scientist" friend who followed Alexander from job to job implementing massive projects that were done poorly and with little planning, and rarely did anything useful.
  • He's somewhat oblivious to the reasons why people are concerned about all of this, because he thinks of himself as a trustworthy guy.

And here is its final paragraph, that seems quite fair to me:

Again the entire profile is worth reading -- including the bits about how he's apparently obsessed with the stupid puzzle game Bejeweled Blitz, and how he once hired a Hollywood set designer to make his base of operations look just like the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek (complete with wooshing doors) to better "wow" politicians who came to visit. The overall profile is fascinating to read, but scary, because it suggests someone with little actual concern for the Constitution, a strong (if faulty) belief in his own capabilities, and immense power. That's a bad combination, even if he doesn't have "nefarious" intent.

6. Rania Masri and Chris Hedges On Obama's Syria Address

Finally, 18 minutes of video-interview by The REAL News:
I watched all of it and liked it, though Rania Masri's sound could have been better, which is a pity.

In case you want Obama's speech it's text is under the last link. It ends as follows:
Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional.

With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

It seems to me - and here I agree with Rania Masri - quite hypocritical, and as hypocritical as the quoted ending obviously is.
[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)

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