"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
1. Various items: NSA
stories around the world
2. NSA surveillance goes beyond
Orwell's imagination – Alan
the N.S.A.’s Back Doors
4. Spilling the NSA's
5. Stephen Fry joins demand to
end NSA and GCHQ mass
6. Obama’s Friends in Low
Senate Is Busy Creating a Privileged 1st Amendment
Club for 'Official' Journalists
Today I had (and have) 7
items in the crisis series, gathered before 12.00 in the
morning. The first five of these are about the NSA, but if you want a
reason for this you can consult item 2. Also, in item 8 I very briefly explain why I did not treat the
latest signs of Dutch academic corruption.
items: NSA stories around the world
To start with, another item by Glenn Greenwald:
This starts as follows:
I'm still working at
trying to get the next set of NSA stories published.
That, combined with a rapidly approaching book deadline, will make
non-NSA-article postings difficult for the next couple of weeks. Until
then, here are a few items to note regarding a point I have often tried
to make: namely, one of the most overlooked aspects of the NSA
reporting in the US has been just how global of a story this has become:
After which follows eight
numbered items, that you can check yourself, and that I forego mostly,
because I have treated them. But I do want to copy two points, which I
consider quite fair, and are quite relevant, when discussing the New
York Times, the home of David Brooks:
The New York Times had a
quite good editorial yesterday on the domestic dangers posed by the
NSA's efforts to break internet encryption. The Editorial details
numerous ways that we have learned that the NSA jeopardizes the privacy
rights of Americans and the security of the internet, and calls for
serious limits on the NSA's hacking powers. Are there really people who
can read that and think to themselves: I sure do wish Edward
Snowden had let us remain ignorant about all of this?
Yet now, as the
Hill reports, those arguments used by the DOJ to prevent judicial
rulings are being gutted by all of the revelations in the wake of
Snowden-enabled reporting. The Hill article quotes the ACLU's Alex Abdo
"For years, the
government has shielded its surveillance practices from judicial review
through excessive secrecy. And now that that secrecy has been lifted to
some degree, we now know precisely who is being surveilled in some of
the dragnet policies of the NSA, and those people can now challenge
those policies. . . . . No matter what you think of the lawfulness of
these programs, I think everyone should think their legitimacy or
illegitimacy is better debated in public and decided by a court."
Does anyone disagree with
that? Is there anyone who thinks things were better pre-Snowden when
the DOJ could successfully block legal challenges to the US
government's spying activities by invoking secrecy and standing claims?
I would myself assume that
David Brooks disagrees and would have wanted everyone to remain
ignorant. But I have already in June concluded that Mr Brooks is not
dumb, but is quite dishonest.
2. NSA surveillance goes beyond Orwell's imagination – Alan
Next, an article in the Guardian by Dominic
Rushe, about the editor of the Guardian:
I start with noting this has
says depth of NSA surveillance programs greatly exceed anything the
1984 author could have imagined.
And I think that is quite
true, first because of the depthto which the NSA goes: it plunders everybody's
information, and pretends there are at least three classes of people:
The governors and NSA-staff; the rest of the Americans they plunder;
and the rest of the world, that do not have any rights, and also are
plundered. And second, because Orwell just did not think of computers,
that indeed hardly existed when he was alive.
Here are the first three paragraphs:
And here is Rusbridger on a
thema of - somewhat strangely: do many Americans really think
"exceptional"? - international spying:
The potential of the surveillance
state goes way beyond anything in George Orwell's
1984, Alan Rusbridger,
editor-in-chief, told an audience in New York on Monday.
Speaking in the wake of a
series of revelations in the Guardian about the extent of the National
Security Agency's surveillance operations, Rusbridger said: "Orwell
could never have imagined anything as complete as this, this concept of
scooping up everything all the time.
"This is something
potentially astonishing about how life could be lived and the
limitations on human freedom," he said.
Quite so - or English, French,
Belgian or Dutch: Your computer is being milked by Keith
Alexander's supermen and superwomen, and the president of the
United States tells you that you should not worry, and "trust" him!
(Besides, he is also
lying to his own people about his own people.)
"All sorts of people
around the world are questioning what America is doing," said
Rusbridger. "The president keeps saying: well we don't spy on our
people. [But] that's not much comfort if you are German."
And he also said:
the world of spying had changed incomparably in the last 15 years. "The
ability of these big agencies, on an international basis, to keep
entire populations under some form of surveillance, and their ability
to use engineering and algorithms to erect a system of monitoring and
surveillance, is astonishing," he said.
Yes, quite so - and by the
There does not seem to be any real consciousness in the U.S. government
that this does involve "big
issues about balancing various rights in society": All they know is the logic of power - they
can take it, they took it, and ordinary
people should shut up as they see their privacy totally disappear.
(For that's what it comes down to, in principle.)
He said that as the NSA
revelations had gone on, the "integrity of the internet" had been
questioned. "These are big, big issues about balancing various rights
in society. About how business is done. And about how safe individuals
are, living their digital lives."
N.S.A.’s Back Doors
Next, an article in the New
York Times, that meanwhile seems to have been limited to those who pay
In any case, here is the
back doors also strip away the expectations of privacy that
individuals, businesses and governments have in ordinary
communications. If back doors are built into systems by the N.S.A., who
is to say that other countries’ spy agencies — or hackers, pirates and
terrorists — won’t discover and exploit them?
government can get a warrant and break into the communications or data
of any individual or company suspected of breaking the law. But
crippling everyone’s ability to use encryption is going too far, just
as the N.S.A. has exceeded its boundaries in collecting everyone’s
phone records rather than limiting its focus to actual suspects.
Representative Rush Holt,
Democrat of New Jersey, has
introduced a bill, that
would, among other provisions. bar
the government from requiring software makers to insert built-in
ways to bypass encryption. It deserves full Congressional support.
To which I am willing to
say: Quite so.
4. Spilling the NSA's Secrets
Next, here is Allen Rusbridger again, this time being interviewed on
This is an interesting
interview, but most of the material covered, I have already covered in
Nederlog. I select one point, that I did not treat:
Well, to begin
with, we needed some help from Snowden to point us to what he thought
was important. This is not a world that is easily — these are not
documents in which the stories sit up and show themselves. This is a
complex world. A lot is written in acronyms, if not in actually code,
and so we had to be guided to, initially, to some of the stories that
Snowden felt were most newsworthy.
That is: Much of the material does
need redacting, and is not fit to be published as is, at least not in
the general press. This I am quite willing to accept.
5. Stephen Fry joins demand to end NSA and GCHQ
Next, another item in the Guardian, this time by Nick Hopkins:
This starts with a picture of
Fry, under which there is the following text, that is quite accurate,
by my lights:
freedom from state intrusion are important for everyone. You can’t just
scream ‘terrorism’ and use it as an excuse for Orwellian snooping,”
says British actor Stephen Fry
Quite so, and this is
just as it has been played by Obama and the NSA, indeed even to the
extent of criminalizing journalists.
In any case, he and some other British people have joined a group that
was started by the Index on Censorship. On this, the article says:
Quite so. Besides,
Kirsty Hughes seems to have understood something else:
The Guardian recently
revealed how GCHQ and the NSA have successfully
cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of
millions of people to protect their privacy.
Index will announce that
40 free speech groups have also joined the campaign, including Amnesty
International, Liberty, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the
Russian PEN Centre. Free speech organisations from Canada, Bahrain,
Malaysia, Poland and Finland have also signed the petition.
Kirsty Hughes, chief
executive of Index on Censorship, said:
"Snooping and surveillance on this scale is not only an invasion of
privacy, it also undermines the basis of democracy and free speech."
Mass surveillance was a tool used by authoritarian countries and should
not be tolerated, she said.
I think that is quite
true: Most people understand very little of the computer
they use, and at most 1 in a 100 can program.
Index believes the public
have yet to grasp the implications of what had been revealed. "They
don't feel an immediate threat, they don't think that someone is
watching them as they are writing their emails," said Hughes.
"Somehow the implications
have not been appreciated. But if you told people 'we are going to put
a policeman at the end of every street and we are going to put
listening devices in your home' then that would cause obvious alarm."
So - it seems to me - one must tell people it is much worse
than "a policeman at the
end of every street" and "listening devices in your home": Whatever you use your
computer for, in principle is known to the NSA, whatever it is
about, indeed with the one exception: The computer needs to be
connected to the internet.
The article also mentions Casper Bowen, a former Microsoft employee,
who wrote a report for the European Union:
The report notes "there
are no privacy rights for non-Americans under Prism and related
programmes" and says the US probably places "no limitations on
exploiting or intruding a non-US person's privacy."
Bowden concludes "EU
institutions have the right and duty to examine this emergence of cyber
mass-surveillance and how it affects the fundamental rights of the EU
citizen abroad and at home."
Friends in Low Places
Next, I shift from the NSA towards president Obama, who has cultivated
friendships with the richest and most powerful people in the United
States (while writing fake booklets such as "The Audacity of Hope"):
Here is a bit from it, from
He is "one of the smartest bankers we got", who meanwhile lost at least $16
billion dollars, clearly to be paid by others. But the president
loves him, and therefore he must
That Barack Obama is such
a kidder. No matter how awkward the moment, he’s got just the right
quip to purchase some wiggle room. Remember when his old Chicago
banking buddy Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, first ran into
that bit of trouble over his bank’s “London Whale” derivative scam?
That scheme has already lost $6 billion with close to another $1
billion piled on by the SEC in fines last week after JPMorgan admitted
it broke the law.
Well of course, being
Obama, when the scandal first broke last year, the president picked a
women’s daytime talk show, ABC’s “The View,” to deal with the scams of
his leading Wall Street backer. “JPMorgan is one of the best-managed
banks there is,” he told the “View” audience. “Jamie Dimon, the head of
it, is one of the smartest bankers we got, and they still lost $2
billion and counting.”
Yes, counting; that $2
billion is now likely to end up around $16 billion given the future
legal fees and possible payouts allotted to countering the myriad
lawsuits connected with this admission of illegal activity. That’s
aside from the mortgage fraud, Libor rate rigging and energy
manipulation cases still confronting the beleaguered bank.
7. The Senate
Is Busy Creating a Privileged 1st Amendment
Club for 'Official' Journalists
Finally, an article on AlterNet by Carey Shenkman:
Here are the first two
This is part of the
reason why I do not trust the American Senate: They are
actively protecting - what I, for my part, think are obviously -
sadists like Brooks
and Toobin, while making it easy to imprison Greenwald and Poitras, and
they clearly know that as well.
On September 12, 2013,
the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee narrowly defined who the law should
consider to be a journalist, by amending the
proposed Free Flow of Information Act (“FFIA”). The FFIA is a “shield
law” that protects journalists from having to reveal their confidential
sources when confronted with court subpoenas. The amendment changed the
language of the bill from protecting the activity of
journalism to protecting the profession. Journalists
are now limited to those employed by, recently employed by, or
substantially contributing to media organizations for certain minimum
This maneuver skirts the
substantial investigative role served by independent journalists,
bloggers, and nontraditional media, who are left unprotected by the
statute. It also expressly excludes whistleblower organizations. By not
extending protection to a vital segment of investigative newsgatherers,
the amended FFIA falls short of providing real benefits. More
fundamentally, the distinctions created by the bill reinforce a
privileged club for journalists. In essence, the government is
licensing the press, and treading down a path that courts have for decades cautioned “present[s]
practical and conceptual difficulties of a high order.”
The rest is also well worth reading. The general points are that (1)
there is no good definition of "journalist", and there never
has been one, and that (2) in a free and open society everybody
has and should have the right to speak and write as he pleases, and
that (3) nobody should be forced to reveal his sources.
I do not treat Mart Bax
six Groninger intellectuals who claimed to have been tortured
for two years - I quote from their open letter: "the two years of torture the Board of the
Faculty practiced on our body and soul": Really now?! - because it disgusts me too
much, and what I write
about it will not make any difference.
 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: